DuPont and MER Corp. have been awarded $5.7 million by the the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a new inexpensive, energy-efficient process for making titanium metal powder.
The powder, under heat and pressure, will be used to create strong, lightweight items ranging from armor plating to components for the aerospace, transportation and chemical processing industries.
DuPont will supply the titanium dioxide as raw material and be involved in the design and development of a significantly sized system.
MER Corp. is to provide the core technology for converting titanium dioxide to titanium metal, and will conduct experimental work and build and operate the scaled-up system.
DuPont and its customers will fabricate aerospace and other parts tot demonstrate the inherent quality of the material produced.
Depending on the success of the two-year project, DuPont will develop systems to integrate the overall process and the possible development of large-scale commercialization.
Compared to the current 50-year-old process, it is expected that the new process will consume less than half of the energy to convert titanium ore to titanium metal compared.
The new process will also produce a titanium metal powder that can be directly formed into desired shapes, allowing manufacturers to make parts faster, with less machining and less scrap.