I have been to the Ti plant (VSMPO) in Verkhnaya (Lower) Salda in the Ural Region of Russia
many times. The plant is sized to equal and even surpass all of the rest of the world's capacity to make titanium. It is very impressive. The Soviets built it to make materials for submarines due the the material's outstanding corrosion
resistance. Since the economy was controlled they did not care what it cost and the whole fleet is titanium! Since these are atomic subs they do not last forever and must be melted down. The alloy used (5/2.5) is not easily mixed with other common alloys (6/4 or 3/2.5) so most of the material goes into commercial
products like bicycle frames, golf clubs, etc. The shovels are unique in that dirt tends to not stick to the shovel, but they are really more like souvenirs--I have two of them hanging on the wall. VSMPO sells ti to the aerospace and chemical industries in this country and are a good outfit to deal with.
When people ask, "what is titanium made from?", I answer, "electricity". Whether using the Kroll, Hunter
, or one of the experimental refining methods, the use of power is prodidgious--which means that the metal is unlikely to drop in price
, even though the ore, rutile or ilmenite, is relatively plentiful. Incidentally most of the ti useage in this country is for pigment in white paint
since white lead is now illegal.
Titanium, like aluminum
is frequently alloyed which increases strength and other mechanical properties a lot. When discussing ti, make sure you know which alloy you are discussing. Pure ti has roughly the corrosion
resistance of glass, 2/3 the weight of steel.