A hard, silver-gray metallic element in
group IVB of the periodic table;
it is a transition element. Titanium
occurs naturally in the minerals rutile and ilmenite, from which it is extracted by
conversion to titanium (IV) chloride and reduction by magnesium.
It is the 9th most common element in the Earth's crust. The metal and its alloys are strong, light (titanium is about
as strong as steel but 45% lighter), and corrosion-
and temperature-resistant, and, although expensive, are used for construction
in the aerospace industry.
|Titanium. Credit: TitaniumMetalSupply.com
|Titanium is extracted almost exclusively from rutile (TiO2), heated with coke in an atmosphere of chlorine (Cl2) in a brick-lined chimney (1) to produce titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4). The vapor is condensed (2) and purified by distillation (3). Heating in the Kroll furnace (4) under argon (Ar) with fused magnesium (Mg) produces a titanium "sponge", Ti, and magnesium chloride (MgCl2). The magnesium chloride is removed (5) by leaching with 2% nitric acid (HNO3). The titanium is pressed into electrodes and melted under argon in a consumable-arc furnace (6) to improve the product density. The water-cooled, copper jacket of the furnace does not react with the titanium, unlike other processes in which side reactions nearly always occur. The consumable arc furnace was developed especially to cater for metals, such as titanium, which are extremely reactive with, for example, oxygen at temperatures well below their melting points. The process is repeated to ensure that the product is of uniform quality. The leached magnesium chloride is fused and electrolysed in a Dow furnace to produce the elements for recycling (7). Titanium is used to make very tough alloys with steel for the aerospace, toolmaking, and automotive.
Titanium is moderately reactive, forming tetravalent compounds, including
titanates (TiO32-), and less stable di- and tri-valent
|relative atomic mass
Discovery of titanium
In 1791, the Reverend William Gregor, an English clergyman and mineralogist,
reported that he had discovered a magnetic black sand near the beaches of
Cornwall, England. The mineral was named menachanite after the local parish
of Menaccan. A few years after Gregor's discovery, Martin Klaproth,
a German chemist, separated titanium dioxide (TiO2) from the
mineral rutile. Klaproth named the new element titanium after the giants
of Greek mythology. In 1825, Jöns Berzelius performed a crude separation of titanium metal. However, it was not until
1910 that M. A. Hunter, an American chemist, produced pure titanium. W.
J. Kroll patented his method for producing titanium metal in 1938. Coincidently,
commercial production of titanium metal and titanium dioxide pigment began
in the 1940s.
[This section is adapted from the
Mineral Information Institute's website.]
Titanium (IV) oxide (TiO2) is used as a white
pigment in paints, ceramics, glass, paper, and cosmetics. It occurs naturally as the mineral rutile, from which it is extracted by chlorination. It can be extracted from ilmenite by treating it with sulfuric acid.
(IV) chloride (TiCl4) finds use as a catalyst.