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» Applications of Titanium

Titanium and its alloys have proven to be technically superior and cost-effective materials of construction for a wide variety of aerospace, industrial, marine and commercial applications. In North America, approximately 70% of the titanium consumed is utilized for aerospace applications. Due to the expansion of existing applications and the development of new uses, the greatest growth will occur in the industrial, marine and commercial sectors.

Industrial applications in which titanium-based alloys are currently utilized include:

» Gas Turbine Engines

Highly efficient gas turbine engines are possible only through the use of titanium-based alloys in components like fan blades, compressor blades, discs, hubs and numerous non-rotor parts. The key advantages of titanium-based alloys in this application include high strength/weight ratio, strength at moderate temperatures and good resistance to creep and fatigue. The development of titanium aluminides will allow the use of titanium in hotter sections of a new generation of engines.

» Heat Transfer

The major industrial application for titanium remains in heat transfer applications in which the cooling medium is seawater, brackish water or polluted water. Titanium condensers, shell and tube heat exchangers, and plate and frame heat exchangers are used extensively in power plants, refineries, air conditioning systems, chemical plants, offshore platforms, surface ships and submarines. The life span and dependability of titanium are demonstrated by the fact that of the millions of feet of welded titanium tubing in power plant condenser service, there have been no reported failures due to corrosion on the cooling water side.

» DSA-dimensional stable anodes

The unique electrochemical properties of the titanium DSA make it the most energy efficient unit for the production of chlorine, chlorate and hypo chlorite.

» Pulp and Paper

Due to recycling of waste fluids and the need for greater equipment reliability and life span, titanium has become the standard material for drum washers, diffusion bleach washers, pumps, piping systems and heat exchangers in the bleaching section or pulp and paper plants. This is particularly true for the equipment developed for chloride dioxide bleaching systems.

» Desalination

Excellent resistance to corrosion, erosion, and high condensation efficiency, make titanium the most cost-effective and dependable material for critical segments of desalination plants. Increased usage of very thin walled welded tubing makes titanium competitive with copper-nickel.

» Extraction and Electrowinning of Metals

Hydrometallurgical extraction of metals from ores in titanium reactors is an environmentally safe alternative to smelting processes. Extended life span, increased energy efficiency and greater product purity are factors promoting the usage of titanium electrodes in electro-winning and electro-refining of metals like copper, gold, manganese and manganese dioxide.

» Medical

Titanium is widely used for implants, surgical devices, pacemaker cases and centrifuges. Titanium is the most bio-compatible of all metals due to its total resistance to attack by body fluids, high strength and low modulus.

» Hydrocarbon Processing

The need for longer equipment life, coupled with requirements for less downtime and maintenance, favor the use of titanium in heat exchangers, vessels, columns and piping systems in refineries, LNG plants and offshore platforms. Titanium is immune to general attack and stress corrosion cracking by hydrocarbons, H2S, brines and CO2.

» Marine Applications

Because of high toughness, high strength and exceptional erosion/corrosion resistance, titanium is currently being used for submarine ball valves, fire pumps, heat exchangers, castings, hull material for deep sea submersibles, water jet propulsion systems, shipboard cooling and piping systems.

» Chemical Processing

Titanium vessels, heat exchangers, tanks, agitators, coolers and piping systems are utilized in the processing of aggressive compounds, like nitric acid, organic acids, chlorine dioxide, inhibited reducing acids and hydrogen sulfide.

» Steam Turbines

Over 30% of the down time of power plants is caused by failures of steam turbine components. The use of Ti-6AI-4V turbine blades in the Wilson Line region increased the efficiency and life of the low pressure steam turbine while decreasing downtime and maintenance.

» Automotive

Titanium is already extensively utilized in high performance vehicle components such as valves, valve springs, rocker arms, connecting rods and frames due to its high strength and low weight. Evaluations have demonstrated that use of a titanium valve train improves fuel efficiency by 4% in commercial engines. Because of this factor, titanium valve train components are being evaluated in several commercial engines.

» Castings

Commercial casting production started in the late 1960s and today the technology has matured to the point where critical gas turbine engine, air frame, chemical process and marine products are routinely supplied. Castings are the most commercially advanced and diversified of the net shape technologies available to the user. They offer greater design freedom and greatly reduce the need for expensive metal removal or fabrication to attain the desired shape.

Both precision lost wax as well as rammed graphite (sand) molding systems are employed. The same pattern equipment normally used to produce steel parts is often used to produce titanium chemical pump and valve components while aerospace parts normally require their own tooling.

Mechanical properties of titanium castings are generally comparable to their wrought counterparts. Toughness and crack growth resistance are generally superior and strength is almost the same while high cycle fatigue is normally a little lower.

The introduction of hot isostatic pressing (HIP) in the late 1970s tumbled the barriers associated with X-ray interpretation of normal internal casting shrinkage cavities since such indications were closed and diffusion bonded by the process. By the elimination of typical internal microshrink, mechanical property scatter was reduced and average property levels improved. As designers began to have greater confidence, applications increased dramatically.

» Sports Equipment

Titanium golf shafts, tennis racquet frames, pool cue shafts, ball bats and bicycle frames are currently being fabricated using the Ti-3AI-2.5V alloy. Ti-3AI-2.5V has demonstrated the properties needed for sports applications: good strength-to-weight ratio, good corrosion resistance, low modulus of elasticity, and dampening characteristics.

» In the aerospace industry

titanium is currently being utilized in: Engines The largest single use of titanium is in the aircraft gas turbine engine. In most modern jet engines, titanium-based alloy parts make up 20% to 30% of the dry weight, primarily in the compressor. Applications include blades, discs or hubs, inlet guide vanes and cases. Titanium is most commonly the material of choice for engine parts that operate up to 1100°F. (593°C.).

» Airframes

Titanium alloys effectively compete with aluminum, nickel and ferrous alloys in both commercial and military airframes. For example, the all-titanium SR 71 still holds all speed and altitude records. Applications run the gamut of airframe structural members; from massive, highly stressed, forged wing structures, and landing gear components, to small critical fasteners, springs, and hydraulic tubing.

Selection of titanium in both airframes and engines is based upon titanium's basic attributes; weight reduction due to high strength to weight ratios coupled with exemplary reliability in service, attributable to outstanding corrosion resistance compared to alternate structural metals.

» Space

Structures Starting with the extensive use of titanium in the early Mercury and Apollo space craft, titanium alloys continue to be widely used in military and NASA space applications. In addition to manned space craft, titanium alloys are extensively employed in solid rocket booster cases, guidance control pressure vessels and a wide variety of applications demanding light weight and reliability.

» Thick Section Titanium

Heavy section size is generally defined as forged or rolled thickness that exceeds four inches. Titanium alloys have been successfully used for heavy sections thickness, in both airframe parts, and in rotating components such as heavy section fan disks for PWA and G.E. high bypass jet engines, and Sikorsky helicopter rotor forgings.

The primary alloys that have been involved are Ti-6AI-4V, in the annealed or STOA (Solution Treated and Over aged) condition; the near-beta Ti-17 (Ti-5AI-2Sn-2Zr-4Mo-4Cr), Ti-lOV-2Fe-3AI and the Ti-6AI-2Sn-4Zr-6Mo compositions in the STA (Solution Treated Aged) condition; and the beta alloys Ti-13V-11Cr-3Al and Ti-3AI-8V-6Cr-4Mo-4Zr, also in the STA condition. Certainly the most extensive heavy section applications in one project to date featured the Ti-13V-11Cr-3AI alloy in the SR-71 Blackbird (fuselage frames, wing beams and landing gears). In this program, Lockheed engineers stated that while only titanium and steel had the ability to withstand the operating temperatures encountered, aged Ti-13V-11Cr-3AI titanium weighed one-half as much as stainless steel per cubic inch and it's ultimate strength was about equal to stainless. Using "conventional" fabrication techniques, fewer parts were needed with Ti-13V-11Cr-3AI than with steel.

For a given process and heat treatment condition, titanium alloys such as these demonstrate superior fatigue and fracture toughness properties, not only in the absolute sense, but also from the stand point of uniformity throughout the heavy section thickness, and as the section thickness increases from 4" to 6", or even to 8". Titanium alloys offer a useful and in many cases, a superior alternative to steel alloys for heavy section application.

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