Manufacturing Process Innovations: A “Bessemer Moment” For Titanium?
I had called Taso to talk about their process innovation for making titanium. It is a new method that uses hydrogen instead of carbon: hydrogen assisted metallothermic reduction (HAMR). HAMR promises to be both environmentally friendly as well as much lower cost, what Arima calls titanium’s “Bessemer moment.” The process was developed by metallurgist and Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Utah, Dr. Z. Zak Fang, under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, their version of DARPA. The HAMR process uses half the energy, cuts emissions by more than 30% (and to potentially zero if using renewable energy) to power the furnaces. It substantially reduces the cost of producing titanium. The majority of savings come from eliminating both the chlorination step and the vacuum distillation.