Sustainable Molten Salt Route for Electro-extraction & Electro-refining of Low-grade Ores to Yield High Purity Titanium

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MPIE-Kolloquium: Sustainable Molten Salt Route for Electro-extraction & Electro-refining of Low-grade Ores to Yield High Purity Titanium

  • Date: Jul 4, 2019
  • Time: 14:00 - 15:00
  • Speaker: Dr. Paul Coxon
  • (“the world’s most-followed materials scientist on Twitter”) Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Location: Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
  • Room: BDS Seminar room
  • Host: on invitation of Dr. Baptiste Gault
  • Contact:
Titanium is the fourth most abundant engineering material in the Earth’s crust. Although it has many beneficial properties, the cost of extraction remains a challenge and over 90% of high grade titanium is derived from the expensive and time-consuming Kroll Process. Electro-refining methods show promise but present their own special challenges. We present an overview and update of a novel molten salt process to extract and refine low-grade ores to produce high-grade powder titanium. Titanium oxycarbide produced by carbothermic reduction is electro-refined in a molten eutectic bath of NaCl:KCl salt. Anodic dissolution causes the Ti product to be plated out in the form of a dendritic product which collects on the cathode while impurities are retained in the anode. A gentle introduction to the process will be given and recent studies to apply the method to include the effect of using ilmenite and ilmenite/rutile blends as a feedstock, as well as the applicability of the process to other metals, specifically niobium (Nb) and vanadium-baring minerals presented.

Bio of Dr. Coxon:

Paul Coxon is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy in the University of Cambridge. He leads several world-leading research programmes developing new molten salt approaches across a range of applications including: low-cost anode materials for Li-batteries, light management and photon trapping in solar PV, low-cost/high-yield graphene production, and sustainable electro-refining methods of tech-critical metals. He is a keen science communicator always eager to engage the public in the wonders of materials science. He is the world’s most-followed materials scientist on Twitter at @paulcoxon and is currently writing a popsci book on the modern materials which will make the future.

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