Titanium production

1 min read

South Yorkshire-based Metalysis is leading a £1.8m effort to develop mass production methods for high-purity titanium.

The company, which develops technology for the speciality metals industry, has secured an £862,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to scale up its technology for the production of titanium powders.

Metalysis owns the global IP and commercial exploitation rights to the process, known as FFC.

The company’s partners in the effort include Newcastle University, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Sheffield University and TWI.

This public- and private-sector collaboration will design, develop and commission Metalysis’s semi-continuous production plant to provide a consistent high-purity product at a commercially viable price. The plant is due to be commissioned within eight months, after which powder consolidation and characterisation trials will commence on the titanium produced. The entire project will last for two years.

Mark Bertolini, chief executive of Metalysis, said: ‘This project is a landmark on the road to us, introducing a truly disruptive technology into the £1bn-plus global market for the production of high-purity titanium.’

Metalysis’s new plant will produce titanium that can be sold as either a powder or sheet form, which could dramatically increase efficiency of use for this finite resource.

It is claimed that in the case of aerospace, for example, the fabrication yield from titanium can be enhanced from the current 10 per cent level to as much as 90 per cent in some cases.

Metalysis believes that, typically, an integrated 5,000-tonne-per-year titanium production plant using the traditional multi-stage Kroll process requires a capital expenditure of £400m or more.

It is estimated that a plant based on the FFC process will cost in the region of £50m and is expected to emit 50 per cent less carbon emissions.

Metalysis plans to enter the titanium market in niche applications before scaling up production to compete in volume markets.

The TSB grant follows a £5.1m funding round in May 2009, in which all of the company’s existing venture capital stakeholders reinvested.

During the last five years and prior to this latest award, Metalysis has raised £19m in venture capital and a further £4m in grants.