A new method for extracting titanium could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency, according to research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Zhigang Zak Fang and colleagues write that while titanium is the fourth most common metal in the Earth’s crust, the high-energy, high-cost method used to extract it prevents its use in broader applications. Their method reduces the energy required to separate it from oxygen, which they say could lower the cost of titanium for widespread use.
The metal, prized for its light weight, strength, stability and corrosion resistance, was used on the Mars Odyssey mission, and is often used in wedding rings and in deep-sea submersibles. Titanium also could be used to significantly lighten and strengthen commercial products and materials, the researchers say.
The authors received funding from the Department of Energy.
Lightweighting is the automotive industry’s best bet to achieve the 2025 corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard, according to Chuck Evans, corporate vice president at Henkel’s automotive group.
The US standard raises the average fuel economy of cars and light-duty trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
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