The metal elementis widely distributed in the earth’s crust, and its content is about 0.4% of the crustal mass. The world reserve of titanium is about 3.4 billion tons and ranks 10th among all elements (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, hydrogen, titanium). Its abundant reserve provides a major source of raw materials for the production and development of titanium and titanium alloys. Since the 1950s, the types of titanium alloys have evolved from the 1954 Ti-6Al-4V alloy to the current hundreds of alloy types.
Titanium alloys are widely used in various fields, including aerospace, automobile manufacturing, medical and health, and other fields of daily life because of their high strength, good corrosion resistance, and high heat resistance. Many countries in the world, such as the United States, Japan, Russia, and China, have recognized the importance of titanium alloy materials, and have successively researched and developed them, and have obtained practical applications. That’s where itslies—nearly every industry and everyone needs Titanium. The followings are some of the specific applications of Titanium in different areas.
Since the 1950s, titanium alloys have developed rapidly in the aerospace industry. This application mainly utilizes the excellent comprehensive mechanical properties, low density and good corrosion resistance of titanium alloys, because the materials of aerospace frames require high tensile strength, good fatigue strength and fracture toughness. The excellent high temperature tensile strength, creep strength and high temperature stability of titanium alloys have also made them suitable for use in jet engines.
Titanium alloy is one of the main structural materials for modern aircraft and engines. It can reduce the weight of the aircraft and improve the structural efficiency. The spacecraft’s payload is relatively small compared to the aircraft, so the weight loss of its structure is even more important. Titanium alloys have been used in the earliestand , and fuel tanks and satellite pods are typical applications for titanium alloys. Titanium alloys are more advantageous than high-strength steels because of their light weight, high strength and long-term chemical stability with fuel. For example, Ti-3Al-2.5V alloy was developed for low temperature applications and still has good toughness and plasticity under cryogenic conditions in space.
- Automotive industry
The automotive industry is a market with huge potential for titanium products. However, it has been developed slowly over the years mainly because the priceof titanium alloy products is too high. In recent years, with the improvement and development of titanium alloy technology, the production cost of many titanium products has been decreasing year by year. At the same time, the demand for luxury cars, sports cars and racing cars is increasing in the current automotive market. Thus, it is expected that the demand of titanium will start to boost.
Titanium is a material with excellent properties such as light weight, high strength, good corrosion resistance, wide temperature adaptation range and high elasticity. It can be used in automobiles to reduce weight, save energy, absorb shock, reduce noise, reduce pollution, extend life, and improve the safety and comfort of a car, and is an ideal material for achieving lightweight vehicles. As early as more than 20 years ago, the racing engine used titanium valves and connecting rods to reduce weight, thereby reducing torque and power output, and improving the performance of component deflection. At the same time, the addition of Silicon to titanium improves the oxidation resistance and creep resistance, and the strength is higher than that of the conventional alloy at about 500 °C.
Titanium and its alloys can be used as engine valves, housings, valve springs, connecting rods and half shafts, bolts, fasteners, suspension springs and exhaust system components. The use of titanium in cars can save fuel, reduce engine noise and vibration, and improve life. At present, the combination of new low-cost raw materials, alloy system development and design and advanced powder metallurgy forming technology is expected to enable titanium to enter the automobile manufacturing industry as soon as possible.
- Chemical industry
In the chemical industry, titanium is used as a corrosion-resistant material to replace stainless steel, nickel-based alloys and other rare metals. This is of great significance in increasing production, improving product quality, extending equipment life, reducing consumption, reducing energy consumption, reducing costs, preventing pollution, improving working conditions and improving labor productivity.
Titanium has become one of the main anti-corrosion materials in chemical equipment, and has established his corrosion resistance status in chemical plants. As an ideal material in chemical equipment, titanium has also attracted more and more attention from engineers and technicians.
After years of promotion, titanium and its alloys have been widely used in chemical production as an excellent corrosion-resistant structural material. At present, the application of titanium equipment has expanded from the original soda ash and caustic soda industries to industries such as chlorate, ammonium chloride, urea, organic synthesis, dyes, inorganic salts, pesticides, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and fine chemicals. The survey results show that titanium heat exchangers account for 57%, titanium anodes account for 20%, titanium containers account for 16%, and others account for 7%.
Titanium is an ideal medical metal material and can be used as an implant for human body. Titanium alloy has been widely used in the medical field and has become the material of choice for medical products such as artificial joints, bone trauma, spinal orthopedic internal fixation systems, dental implants, artificial heart valves, interventional cardiovascular stents, and surgical instruments.
Among the metal materials used for hard tissue repair in human body, the elastic modulus of titanium (about 80-110 GPa) is the closest to human tissue, which can reduce the mechanical incompatibility between metal implants and bone tissue. Recently, the research and application of titanium alloys in biomedicine has been on the rise, especially in dentistry and orthopedics. At present, Ti-6Al-4V ELI alloy is still widely used in biomedical alloys at home and abroad, but the performance of β-type titanium alloy is more attractive and it is expected to replace Ti-6Al-4V ELI alloy.
In view of the excellent use of titanium alloys in the medical field, people are paying more and more attention to them. With the continuous development of the medical industry, titanium, as the best known metal material for biological performance, will continue to expand its market demand in the medical field and have broad application prospects.
- Marine industry
Titanium alloys are also widely used in the marine industry due to their excellent corrosion resistance, high specific strength and non-magn tic properties under marine conditions. At present, the parts that titanium has been applied to on ships are: pressure shell, propeller and paddle shaft, sea pipeline, valves and accessories, various pipe joints, heat exchangers, coolers, condensers, engines, parts , lifting device and launching device, acoustic device parts, mooring device, etc.
Titanium pressure vessels are mainly used in deep-sea submersibles and submarines. The United States, France, Japan, and China all use titanium pressure vessels to varying degrees: such as the US deep submersible equipped with titanium observation cabin and control cabin, the dive depth can reach 6100m; Japan uses Ti-6Al – 4V ELI alloy, the depth of dive reaches 6500m; China has also achieved certain results in deep submersible technology.
The cavitation corrosion resistance of titanium alloys is far superior to steel and copper-nickel alloys. Therefore, propellers and propeller shafts made of titanium can reduce cavitation corrosion speed, prolong service life and improve propulsion efficiency. Titanium alloy is resistant to high-speed seawater scouring, and it does not cause scouring corrosion even when used at a flow rate of 13 m/s. It is especially suitable for pipelines where the working medium is high pressure, high flow rate, and moving seawater. The use of titanium to make ship-to-sea pipelines and valves also reduces pipe diameter and the thickness of the pipe wall.
In ship engines, titanium alloys are mainly used to make engine discs and blades to substitute heat-resistant steel. With the development of titanium alloys on ships, titanium alloys are increasingly used for ship mooring ropes, anchoring devices, rescue buoys, signal buoys and masts. In addition, titanium alloys are also used to make various microphones, sonar flow guides, telephone parts, underwater acoustic transducer components, and the like.
The above applications just parts of the uses of titanium, from which we can know that the commercial value of titanium is great and it seems keep rising in the short term and in the long term.