Wednesday, September 14, 2016

News: Metalysis holds key to use of titanium in aerospace sector


Metalysis, the Rotherham-based innovator, is working with global aerospace company, Safran, and researchers at the University of Sheffield, on a project to produce aerospace grade titanium at an affordable price.

The Manvers company holds the worldwide exploitation rights to the FCC Cambridge process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits. It is in the process of commercialising the technology to produce titanium, tantalum, and related high value alloys. These are used increasingly by major worldwide industries such as aerospace, marine, medical, chemical, automotive and electronics.

Backed by investors and grants, the Cambridge University spin out recently secured £20m and confirmed plans to take a 22,000 sq ft unit on the AMP to create a process facility. It is also planning to scale up production of titanium at its Farfield Park premises.

The current $10 billion titanium market size is constrained by the cost of the metal and is poised to expand rapidly if the cost can be lowered. The Metalysis technology, which produces metal powder directly from oxide using electrolysis, has the potential to significantly increase production volumes. The process uses less energy and also means that innovative alloys can be tailored to have the desired properties for specific applications.


Backed by the Government through Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, a £1m project called FASTForge is set to develop a novel low cost titanium forging production process, unique to the UK.

Safran Landing Systems (Messier-Bugatti-Dowty), Metalysis, the University of Sheffield and the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Strathclyde are working to transform rutile sand to novel titanium alloy aerospace components in three steps.

Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide and Metalysis is able to use it to produce titanium powder. The next steps involve novel solid‐state processing techniques such as plasma sintering and one step forging to create near net-shape components.

The summary for the project states: "The production of this aerospace grade titanium at affordable price will be an enabler for the introduction of more titanium on aerospace components but also introduction of titanium, a light and non corrosive material, to other industries such as the rail, automotive, heavy duty construction, defence."

In 2013, The Mercury Centre, which draws on the expertise of engineering capabilities and developments at the University of Sheffield and focuses on researching powder-based processes, demonstrated how titanium powder could be used in 3d printing. Several jet engine parts were built using Metalysis titanium, including guide vanes for jet engines.

In 2015, Metalysis joined with GKN Aerospace and partners as part of a Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) funded project to develop additive layer manufacturing capabilities and raw material production in the form of low-cost titanium powder.

Metalysis website

Images: Adrien Daste / Safran


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