Titanium is one of the transition metals that has a metallic silvery in its natural solid state; this element is most well known for its anti-corrosive properties. Titanium has an atomic weight of 47.867, a melting point of 3034 °F, and a boiling point of 5949 °F. Some common uses of titanium include: as a component in lightweight metallic alloys for use in aircraft, cars, and bicycles, and as a component in parts of ships exposed to salt water.
Titanium is not found free in nature but is a component of minerals such as rutile and ilmentite. The Kroll process is used to isolate titanium from these minerals.
The Kroll process is the main method that is used to isolate titanium on a large scale for industrial purposes. During this process, the ores rutile or ilmenite are reduced by heating them with coke that has been derived from petroleum sources; this reaction takes place in a fluid bed reactor at a temperature of 1832 °F. The next step involves treating the resulting liquid compound to produce titanium tetrachloride in addition to other chloride compounds; the titanium tetrachloride is separated out through fractional distillation. After this step, titanium chloride is reduced by reacting it with liquid magnesium in a stainless steel container at a temperature of approximately 1562 °F.
While pure titanium is isolated from this process, there is a problem with titanium being reduced to its lower chloride form. Magnesium and magnesium dichloride that present problems with reduction are taken out through reactions with water and hydrochloric acid; the resulting titanium sponge has to undergo repeated additional melting and crushing processes to be completely isolated.
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