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Science Technology

New Technology Produces Cheaper Tantalum and Titanium 139

Billy the Mountain writes "A small UK company is bringing new technology online that could reduce the prices of tantalum and titanium ten-fold. According to this piece in The Economist: A tantalising prospect, the key is a technique similar to smelting aluminum with a new twist: The metallic oxides are not melted as with aluminum but blended in powder form with a molten salt that serves as a medium and electrolyte. This technology is known as the FFC Cambridge Process. Other metals include Neodymium, Tungsten, and Vanadium."
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New Technology Produces Cheaper Tantalum and Titanium

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  • Re:Slowpoke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @04:37AM (#43012341) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot is certainly prone to error, so I'm not going to defend this specific case, but it's not uncommon for a 17 year lapse between having a process progressing from an academic discovery to an industrial implementation. Using your example, it was a decade between the first flight and the first scheduled commercial flight (heck, even four years to the first passenger).

  • Re:Slowpoke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @04:45AM (#43012367) Homepage
    There is quite a difference between developing a process in a lab and making it industrially available. With your argument, the news about the ENIAC being functional in 1946 was no news, because Alan Turing developed the model of the Universal Machine already in 1936.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @05:12AM (#43012483)

    the problem with titanium is that its currently incredibly expensive to refine it from its ore, if the costs of refining it the problems of "working" it aren't major hurdles compared to its . Its already used extensively in Aircraft frames were its weight to strength ratio make it economic despite its high cost. if the cost of refining it dropped by the amounts claimed we would see HUGE increases in the use of titanium.

  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:07AM (#43013189)

    It could literally change the world.

    Titanium--which is actually common in the soil--is an amazingly strong metal that is also quite corrosion resistant and can withstand very temperatures. Even with the expensive production processes used up till now, titanium was favored by the aerospace industry because of its strength and heat resistance and for making propeller blades for ship screws because they withstood the corrosive effects of seawater.

    With a vastly cheaper production process, it could make it possible to substantially lighten the weight of automobiles--which has the benefit of either lower petrol/diesel fuel consumption or needing a smaller battery pack (in the case of electric cars). And it means high-speed trains can be vastly lighter while still meeting safety standards for passenger train cars, which means smaller and more efficient traction motors on electric multiple unit (EMU) passenger trains.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan