What is titanium?
Titanium is a lustrous transition metal with a silver color, low density, and high strength. Titanium can be alloyed with iron, aluminium, vanadium, and molybdenum, among other elements, to produce strong, lightweight alloys for aerospace (jet engines, missiles, and spacecraft), military, industrial processes (chemicals and petrochemicals, desalination plants, pulp, and paper), automotive, agriculture (farming), medical prostheses, orthopedic implants, dental and endodontic instruments and files, dental implants, sporting goods, jewelry, mobile phones, and other applications.
The two most useful properties of the metal are corrosion resistance and strength-to-density ratio, the highest of any metallic element. In its unalloyed condition, titanium is as strong as some steels, but less dense.
As a metal, titanium is recognized for its high strength-to-weight ratio. It is a strong metal with low density that is quite ductile (especially in an oxygen-free environment), lustrous, and metallic-white in color. The relatively high melting point (more than 1,650 °C or 3,000 °F) makes it useful as a refractory metal. It is paramagnetic and has fairly low electrical and thermal conductivity compared to other metals. Titanium is superconducting when cooled below its critical temperature of 0.49 K.
Commercially pure (99.2% pure) grades of titanium have ultimate tensile strength of about 434 MPa (63,000 psi), equal to that of common, low-grade steel alloys, but are less dense. Titanium is 60% denser than aluminium, but more than twice as strong as the most commonly used 6061-T6 aluminium alloy. Certain titanium alloys (e.g., Beta C) achieve tensile strengths of over 1,400 MPa (200,000 psi). However, titanium loses strength when heated above 430 °C (806 °F).
Titanium is not as hard as some grades of heat-treated steel; it is non-magnetic and a poor conductor of heat and electricity. Machining requires precautions, because the material can gall unless sharp tools and proper cooling methods are used. Like steel structures, those made from titanium have a fatigue limit that guarantees longevity in some applications.
Like aluminium and magnesium, titanium metal and its alloys oxidize immediately upon exposure to air. Titanium readily reacts with oxygen at 1,200 °C (2,190 °F) in air, and at 610 °C (1,130 °F) in pure oxygen, forming titanium dioxide. It is, however, slow to react with water and air at ambient temperatures because it forms a passive oxide coating that protects the bulk metal from further oxidation. When it first forms, this protective layer is only 1–2 nm thick but continues to grow slowly; reaching a thickness of 25 nm in four years.
Atmospheric passivation gives titanium excellent resistance to corrosion, almost equivalent to platinum. Titanium is capable of withstanding attack by dilute sulfuric and hydrochloric acids, chloride solutions, and most organic acids. However, titanium is corroded by concentrated acids. As indicated by its negative redox potential, titanium is thermodynamically a very reactive metal that burns in normal atmosphere at lower temperatures than the melting point. Melting is possible only in an inert atmosphere or in a vacuum. At 550 °C (1,022 °F), it combines with chlorine. It also reacts with the other halogens and absorbs hydrogen.
Titanium is one of the few elements that burns in pure nitrogen gas, reacting at 800 °C (1,470 °F) to form titanium nitride, which causes embrittlement. Because of its high reactivity with oxygen, nitrogen, and some other gases, titanium filaments are applied in titanium sublimation pumps as scavengers for these gases. Such pumps inexpensively and reliably produce extremely low pressures in ultra-high vacuum systems.
Nippon Titanium Metals Corporation
1-5-8 HommachiDS Bld.7F,
Azuchimachi, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi,
Osaka, 541-0052 JAPAN
Tel: 81 (6) 6210-4293
Fax: 81 (6) 6210-4294