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Titanium

A Game Of Tennis

Avid tennis fans and players will tell you how much the game has changed since the introduction of titanium into the making of tennis rackets. In past years the rackets were made out of heavy wood and steel, but today most rackets are made out titanium. So how has this changed the game?

Titanium is a very strong, durable and low-density element that is also lightweight. As strong as some steels but 45% lighter, titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio out of all the know metals. This lightweight but strong factor makes it ideal for sporting equipment such as tennis rackets, baseball bats, bicycle frames and golf clubs.

Titanium is a transition metal possessing the following qualities:
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • High melting point
  • Low thermal and electric conductivity
It has a lustrous metallic-white appearance and is commonly found in ores like ilmenite and rutile. It is rarely found in a pure form.

ProQuest cites:

“There is more titanium in the earth's crust than there is nickel, zinc, chromium, tin, lead, mercury, and manganese combined! The ores of these metals are concentrated in large, easily mined bodies, while titanium ores are dispersed throughout the earth's crust.”

What Is Titanium Used For?

Titanium is used as an alloying element in steel and is often alloyed with other metals like iron, molybdenum, manganese, aluminium, copper and vanadium. It is used in powdered form in pyrotechnics as a source of bright-burning particles.

The aerospace industry is the biggest consumer of titanium; most of every aircraft is made out of titanium. Aircraft turbine disks and blades are made out of titanium as well. In the automobile industry it is used in components like valves, suspension rings and connecting rods.

Titanium has been used underwater as well; Wikipedia cites:

“Due to its high corrosion resistance to sea water, titanium is used to make propeller shafts and rigging and in the heat exchangers of desalination plants; in heater-chillers for salt water aquariums, fishing line and leader, and for divers' knives. Titanium is used to manufacture the housings and other components of ocean-deployed surveillance and monitoring devices for scientific and military use.”

Titanium is even used in toothpaste! The white permanent pigment formed through titanium dioxide is used in sunscreen, paper, paint, cement, and plastics.

Titanium is chemically inert and compatible with human tissue, it is corrosion resistant to body fluids and is therefore used in many medical implants like knee and hip replacements.

It is used in heat exchangers and reactors in the petrochemical industry. It is used in structural parts of computer chips and disk drives. It is also used in sporting equipment and building structures.

Titanium’s most well known uses are in jewellery, watches and eyeglass frames.

Where Is Titanium Produced?

According to Wikipedia:

“Significant titanium-bearing ilmenite deposits exist in Western Australia, Canada, China, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, and Ukraine. Large quantities of rutile are also mined in North America and South Africa and help contribute to the annual production of 90,000 tonnes of the metal and 4.3 million tonnes of titanium dioxide. Total reserves of titanium are estimated to exceed 600 million tonnes.”

Conclusion

Titanium is the seventh-most abundant metal and ninth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust found most commonly in ores. It has a magnitude of uses across the board - from jewellery making to aerospace components to submarines. It truly is a versatile metal. The largest producer of titanium is Australia.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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