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A tantalising prospect: Exotic, useful metals such as titanium are about to become cheap & plentiful
The Economist ^ | February 16, 2013

Posted on 02/14/2013 8:43:12 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

ALUMINIUM was once more costly than gold. Napoleon III, emperor of France, reserved cutlery made from it for his most favoured guests, and the Washington monument, in America’s capital, was capped with it not because the builders were cheapskates but because they wanted to show off. How times change. And in aluminium’s case they changed because, in the late 1880s, Charles Hall and Paul Héroult worked out how to separate the stuff from its oxide using electricity rather than chemical reducing agents. Now, the founders of Metalysis, a small British firm, hope to do much the same with tantalum, titanium and a host of other recherché and expensive metallic elements including neodymium, tungsten and vanadium.

The effect could be profound. Tantalum is an ingredient of the best electronic capacitors. At the moment it is so expensive ($500-2,000 a kilogram) that it is worth using only in things where size and weight matter a lot, such as mobile phones. Drop that price and it could be deployed more widely. Neodymium is used in the magnets of motors in electric cars. Vanadium and tungsten give strength to steel, but at great expense. And the strength, lightness, high melting point and ability to resist corrosion of titanium make it an ideal material for building aircraft parts, supercars and medical implants—but it can cost 50 times as much as steel. Guppy Dhariwal, Metalysis’s boss, thinks however that the company can make titanium powder (the product of its new process) for less than a tenth of such powder’s current price.

At the moment, titanium is usually produced by the Kroll process...

(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science
KEYWORDS: manufacturing; metals; titanium

1 posted on 02/14/2013 8:43:28 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Cheap tungsten bullets for everyone?


2 posted on 02/14/2013 8:45:19 PM PST by wastedyears (I'm a gamer not because I choose to have no life, but because I choose to have many.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

and for my next trick, I will turn lead into gold.


3 posted on 02/14/2013 8:47:22 PM PST by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Julian Simon right again.


4 posted on 02/14/2013 8:48:58 PM PST by PeaceBeWithYou (De Oppresso Liber! (50 million and counting in Afghanistan and Iraq))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Thankfull that Medicare paid for my titanium hip!!!


5 posted on 02/14/2013 8:51:09 PM PST by dalereed
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; jiggyboy; PA Engineer; blam; TigerLikesRooster; Cheap_Hessian; CJinVA; ...

Goldbug ping.


6 posted on 02/14/2013 8:55:34 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar

Thanks. Good news.


7 posted on 02/14/2013 8:57:08 PM PST by blam
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

But what about the Iridium? Platinum? Unobtanium?


8 posted on 02/14/2013 9:02:11 PM PST by Utilizer (What does not kill you... -can sometimes damage you QUITE severely.)
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To: wastedyears

Maybe cores, straight up, the barrel wear would be frightful.


9 posted on 02/14/2013 9:06:17 PM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: Axenolith

I want titanium barrels!


10 posted on 02/14/2013 9:17:54 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

wll we ever have home 3D titanium printers?


11 posted on 02/14/2013 9:21:21 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: GeronL
There are so many new ideas for a business that you could literally start 10 a day.
12 posted on 02/14/2013 9:22:52 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
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To: UCANSEE2
Huh? It is 12 year old science that is finally being commercialized. This is not alchemy.
13 posted on 02/14/2013 9:32:59 PM PST by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
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To: UCANSEE2

Oops nearly two decades old science. (Why such a lag? Rent seekers.)


14 posted on 02/14/2013 9:35:35 PM PST by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

anyone who has had a welt raised on their finger when a tantalum capacitor fails might argue with the description of “best”. But this is a pretty cool process, nonetheless.

Find a way to make rare earths, then we’ll really have something.


15 posted on 02/14/2013 9:41:20 PM PST by bigbob
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To: GeronL
Biggest, Fastest Titanium 3D Printer
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=251754&dfpPParams=ind_183,industry_aero,industry_gov,bid_27,aid_251754&dfpLayout=blog

16 posted on 02/14/2013 9:41:55 PM PST by preacher (Communism has only killed 100 million people: Let's give it another chance!)
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To: Axenolith

Concur. Brass bullets wear out a rifle barrel in a few hundred bullets. It makes sense to use brass on bullets for elephants and cape buffalo, but not much else. I can only imagine life of a barrel using tungsten bullets.


17 posted on 02/14/2013 9:42:25 PM PST by fini
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To: bigbob

Alaska to commence mining of rare earth minerals by 2016
http://www.mining.com/alaska-to-commence-mining-of-rare-earth-minerals-by-2016-57937/


18 posted on 02/14/2013 9:47:39 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
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To: PeaceBeWithYou

The Doomslayer: The environment is going to hell, and human life is doomed to only get worse, right? Wrong. Conventional wisdom, meet Julian Simon, the Doomslayer.
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html


19 posted on 02/14/2013 9:58:46 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
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To: wastedyears

Yikes. Rare or not, tungsten is really hard. It would tear up the barrel in short order. Maybe as a jacketed slug, as is already being done (and the benefit there would be the lower cost), since it is close to lead in weight.

Also, just because tungsten and titanium and other similar metals are about to get cheaper, doesn’t mean they’re not still insanely expensive to work with. Both metals require complex tools to work, and very high temperatures for forging.


20 posted on 02/14/2013 10:06:22 PM PST by Little Pig (Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.)
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To: dalereed

>>Thankfull that Medicare paid for my titanium hip!!!<<

The taxpayers paid for your titanium hip.


21 posted on 02/14/2013 10:19:35 PM PST by B4Ranch (When democracy turns to tyranny, we still get to vote. We just won't use voting booths to do it.)
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To: B4Ranch

“The taxpayers paid for your titanium hip.”

The amount of taxes I’ve had to pay over the years, I think i paid for it a few times over!


22 posted on 02/14/2013 10:29:47 PM PST by dalereed
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To: dalereed

No, you paid for others to have similar treatments.


23 posted on 02/14/2013 10:58:44 PM PST by B4Ranch (When democracy turns to tyranny, we still get to vote. We just won't use voting booths to do it.)
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To: B4Ranch

In any ponzi scheme it pays to get in early!!!


24 posted on 02/14/2013 11:05:30 PM PST by dalereed
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To: Little Pig

Tantalum (and Nairobium) is also used in different grades of carbide to increase edgewear and prevent plastic deformation when cutting alloy steels...


25 posted on 02/15/2013 1:23:54 PM PST by Antoninus II
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks 2ndDivisionVet. Julian L. Simon is right again.


26 posted on 02/15/2013 7:04:51 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: neverdem

Ping


27 posted on 02/15/2013 7:41:50 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: GeronL

Print a SR-71.


28 posted on 02/15/2013 7:47:36 PM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

That could take a while. But we could have our own drones


29 posted on 02/15/2013 8:03:29 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Thanks for the ping.


30 posted on 02/15/2013 10:04:29 PM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: fini

Or how about a light weight but superstrong coating of titanium down the center of a nylon barrel ~ you could 3D print that.


31 posted on 02/21/2013 3:32:00 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: UCANSEE2
and for my next trick, I will turn lead into gold.

That's nothing.

Obama has turned tons of gold into lead.

32 posted on 02/21/2013 5:28:49 PM PST by Eaker (Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. — Robert A. Heinlein.)
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bookmark


33 posted on 03/01/2013 10:52:18 AM PST by RebelTex (Soli Deo Gloria, "To God alone the glory")
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