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U.S. Defense Agency Makes Grant to DuPont for New Titanium Metal Powder Process

Published on 2006-09-13. Author : SpecialChem

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded USD 5.7 million to a two-company consortium to develop an inexpensive and energy-efficient new process for making titanium metal powder. Under heat and pressure, the powder can be used to create strong, lightweight items ranging from armor plating to components for the aerospace, transportation and chemical processing industries.

The consortium includes DuPont, which will supply the titanium dioxide as raw material and actively participate in the design and development of a significantly sized system. The other partner, Tucson, Ariz.-based MER Corporation, will provide the core technology for converting titanium dioxide to titanium metal. MER also will conduct experimental work and build and operate the scaled up system. The consortium will look to DuPont and its customers to fabricate aerospace and other parts that demonstrate the inherent quality of the material produced.

Assuming the two-year project succeeds, DuPont will develop systems to integrate the overall process, paving the way for large-scale commercialization.

Richard Olson
Richard Olson

"DuPont is the world's largest producer of titanium dioxide pigment, and we see tremendous opportunities to develop new titanium-related technologies to help us expand beyond our historical core business," said Richard Olson, vice president and general manager, DuPont Titanium Technologies. "But beyond the business significance, it's gratifying to know that projects like this can contribute to our nation's security and improve energy performance."

The process is expected to consume less than half of the energy to convert titanium ore to titanium metal compared to the current 50-year-old process. In addition, the new process makes titanium metal powder that can be directly formed into desired shapes. It allows manufacturers to make parts faster, with less machining and significantly less scrap.

"DARPA's Titanium Initiative is developing a truly revolutionary approach to ensuring the supply of what is quickly becoming a strategic material for our country," said Leo Christodoulou, program manager, DARPA. "Obviously, its success will depend on the demonstrated combined strengths of DuPont and MER."

DARPA manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. The agency pursues research and technology projects where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.

Source: DuPont

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