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Segmented Cell for Electrowinning Titanium

Case Western Reserve University
Novel Titanium Electrowinning Process Using Specialized Segmented Diaphragms
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,374,422
Location: 
Cleveland, OH
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 06/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
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 stainless 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: 
Case Western Reserve University is developing a specialized electrochemical cell that produces titanium from titanium salts using a series of layered membranes. Conventional titanium production is expensive and inefficient due to the high temperatures and multiple process steps required. The Case Western concept is to reduce the energy required for titanium metal production using an electrochemical reactor with multiple, thin membranes. The multi-membrane concept would limit side reactions and use one third of the energy required by today's production methods.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Case Western's cell would require one-third of the cost and energy associated with conventional titanium production systems by dramatically reducing the complexity of the process.
Security: 
Light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the transportation industry.
Environment: 
Reduce energy consumption from 100 kWhr/kg to 35 kWhr/kg, cutting CO2 emissions from titanium production by 65%.
Economy: 
Case Western's cell could enable production of high-grade titanium at $3/kg compared to $9/kg using conventional methods.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact: 
Prof. Rohan Akolkar
Release Date: 
9/19/2013