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Last edited 13 Jun 2022
Titanium (Ti) is a soft, ductile, lightweight silvery grey metal that has a very very high tensile strength, which gives it one of the best strength to weight ratios - but it has a poor compressive strength. It is notable as one of the most biocompatible metals as it is not harmful or toxic to living tissue. It is resistant to corrosion because in oxygen it naturally forms a protective oxide film, making it resistant to corrosion also in bodily fluids.
Titanium ore was first discovered in the late 1700's by an English clergyman on Cornish beach sands, then and later named after Titans in Greek mytholoy by a German chemist. It is the fourth most abundant structural metal on Earth with primary ores of ilmenite, leucoxene, and rutile as well as anatase, perovskite, and sphene. Today the top exporters of Titanium are South Africa, Australia, Norway, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone, where half the Titanium mined comes from river sediments or alluvial deposits formed by rivers as they reach the sea. It is extracted through a process of dredging or dry mining.
Negative impacts of mining are generally land-use changes such as deforestation, erosion, alteration of soil profiles, streams and wetlands as well as noise and dust pollution. However because titanium does not degrade it is 100% recyclable and currently around 90% of titanium is recycled via processes that require significantly lower water and energy use than it takes to process the metal from its virgin ores.
The three main markets for titanium metals are in aerospace, non-aerospace industries, and alloy additives. The manufacture of gas turbines accounts for almost half of the annual titanium production, whilst many aircraft frames include titanium alloys because of the weight to strength ratios. Likewise Titanium is an important material for medical prosthetics such as hip-joint replacements because of its weight and strength but also because of its resistance to corrosion even in the human body. It is also used to manufacture anodes in electrolytic solutions because of corrosion resistance, in building servicing products such as diffusers, filtration pumps, heat exchangers, valves, as well as watches, tools and knives.
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