Skip to comments.A tantalising prospect: Exotic, useful metals such as titanium are about to become cheap & plentiful
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 Americas capital, was capped with it not because the builders were cheapskates but because they wanted to show off. How times change. And in aluminiums 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 implantsbut it can cost 50 times as much as steel. Guppy Dhariwal, Metalysiss boss, thinks however that the company can make titanium powder (the product of its new process) for less than a tenth of such powders current price.
At the moment, titanium is usually produced by the Kroll process...
(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...
Cheap tungsten bullets for everyone?
and for my next trick, I will turn lead into gold.
Julian Simon right again.
Thankfull that Medicare paid for my titanium hip!!!
Thanks. Good news.
But what about the Iridium? Platinum? Unobtanium?
Maybe cores, straight up, the barrel wear would be frightful.
I want titanium barrels!
wll we ever have home 3D titanium printers?
Oops nearly two decades old science. (Why such a lag? Rent seekers.)
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.
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.
Alaska to commence mining of rare earth minerals by 2016
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.
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.
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