LOS ANGELES The
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has picked Case Western Reserve
University to help develop a low-cost method of producing
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy awarded researchers at
the Cleveland university $675,000 for a proposed electrowinning
process for the agencys Modern Electro/Thermochemical
Advances in Light Metal Systems program.
"Our project, if
successful, will lower the cost of titanium by up to 60
percent," Rohan Akolkar, Case Western associate professor of
chemical engineering and the principal investigator on the
project, said in a statement.
The Case Western team
plans to use electrowinning to extract titanium directly from
molten titanium salts. It will build a "specialized
electrochemical reactor" to produce the metal.
Akolkar noted that,
unlike conventional non-electrolytic methodspresumably
referring to the widely used Kroll processmagnesium
isnt required in his teams approach, reducing cost
and consumption and simplifying the overall process. Its
success also would lessen the United States dependence on
imports, he said.
The DOE and other
government agencies have been funding various proposals for
lowering the front-end cost of titanium production for several