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Advanced Electrowinning of Titanium

Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER)
ARPA-E Award: 
Tucson, AZ
Project Term: 
01/13/2015 to 03/31/2019
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Primary production of lightweight metals such as titanium is an energy-intensive and expensive process that results in significant carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions. Lowering the energy consumption, cost, and emissions associated with processing titanium would make it more competitive with incumbent structural metals such as steel. Enabling more widespread use of titanium in the aerospace, energy, and industrial sectors--without compromising performance or safety--would substantially reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions from its applications.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER) is scaling up an advanced electrochemical process to produce low-cost titanium from domestic ore. While titanium is a versatile and robust structural metal, its widespread adoption for consumer applications has been limited due to its high cost of production. MER is developing an new electrochemical titanium production process that avoids the cyclical formation of undesired titanium ions, thus significantly increasing the electrical current efficiency. MER will test different cell designs, reduce unwanted side reactions to increase energy efficiency, and minimize the heat loss that occurs when processing titanium. By developing a scalable and stable electrochemical cell, MER could significantly reduce the costs and energy consumption associated with producing titanium.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, MER's method could reduce energy inputs and costs compared to current titanium production methods.
Improving the energy efficiency of titanium production will reduce the demand for imported energy.
New titanium production methods could reduce CO2 emissions by over 80% compared to conventional titanium production.
Expanding the use of more affordable titanium to reduce structural weight could result in fuel cost savings for military vehicle and aircraft applications.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact: 
Dr. James Withers
Carnegie Mellon University
Release Date: