Represented by the chemical symbol Ti, titanium is a metal found in nature as an oxide. It is primarily silver and has the atomic number 22. Because of its low density and impressive strength, titanium is one of the world’s sought-after metals. Continue reading to find out more intriguing titanium facts and how it compares to other metals such as steel.
1. Titanium Has An Amazing Strength-To-Weight Ratio
Of all metals, titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio. As compared to steel, titanium has the upper hand, given that it is over 40% lighter yet remains as strong.
2. It Has a High Melting Point
Titanium’s melting point might not be the highest compared to other metals, but it is significantly high. Its melting point is above 1,668 degrees Celsius, making it as suitable as any refractory metal.
3. Titanium Has Low Thermal and Electrical Conductivity
Given what other metals can achieve, titanium has a relatively low thermal and electrical conductivity. It only becomes a thermal superconductor when cooled to levels below its critical temperature of 0.49 K. Titanium is also non-magnetic.
4. It Is The 9th Most Abundant Element in the World
Titanium is the 9th most abundant metal in the earth’s core. However, the cost of extraction from its ore is very high, and processing it generates too much waste. This explains why it’s also one of the most expensive industrial metals.
5. Titanium Was First Discovered in 1791
Titanium was first discovered by Reverend William Gregor in 1791. He was an amateur mineralogist and clergyman, so he made the invention while studying and praying in the Manaccan Valley. Gregor first named his sample “menachanite” and was not named titanium until 1795.
6. It Is Used In Nuclear Reactors
Because of its qualities, titanium can make nuclear reactor shields. This not only secures the nuclear reactor but also helps to increase its lifespan; it is radiation resistant.
7. Titanium Is A Source of Conflict
Due to its natural features and role in nuclear energy/weapons, some governments have always fought over the control and use of titanium. For example, part of the reason why Ukraine is at war with Russia is control over its titanium products.
8. The Lockheed SR-71 Was Built With 92% Titanium
The Lockheed SR-71 is one of the fastest jets ever. During the Cold War, the United States could not freely interact with the USSR but needed titanium to build their war jets. With that in mind, the CIA created shell companies to buy titanium from unsuspecting USSR members. They ended up buying enough titanium to build 32 Lockheed SR-71 planes.
9. China Is the Largest Producer of Titanium
China accounts for about 30% of the world’s titanium production, making it the largest producer. The country has significant ilmenite ore reserves, putting it in a perfect position to produce most of the metal. Other countries with considerable titanium production abilities include Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and India.
10. It Is Used to Make a Variety of Products
Other than its role in nuclear reactors and medical equipment, titanium can make tennis rackets, scissors, mobile phones, bicycle frames, and jewelry, among other high-performance products.
11. Titanium Does Not Occur Naturally As A Metal
Titanium does not occur naturally in the earth’s crust. Instead, it must be bonded with another element to create it. The process is always messy and costly, justifying the high costs of purchasing titanium products.
12. Titanium Burns in Pure Nitrogen Gas
Other than magnesium, titanium is one of the few elements that burn in pure nitrogen gas. It starts to react at about 800 degrees Celsius.
13. It Is Critical for the Medical Industry
Titanium has helped doctors and other medical practitioners heal people since the 1940s. Today, you can find titanium in biomedical implants such as pacemakers, hearing aids, and eye implants. The element also binds well with bones and living tissue, making it suitable for orthopedic implants.
14. Different Grades of Titanium Are Available
Experts grade titanium depending on its composition. For instance, grade 1 titanium consists of pure, unalloyed titanium. Because of its formability, resistance to corrosion, and resilience against impact, grade 1 titanium is used in the healthcare industry.
On the other hand, grade 23 titanium is alloyed with 6% aluminum and 40% vanadium, which have low interstitial elements.
15. When Cut With a Waterjet, Titanium Sparks White
Titanium can be cut with a waterjet in a process known as abrasive waterjet cutting. It is a more viable method, given others might require heating, making it costly because of the metal’s high melting point. Interestingly, waterjet cutting usually produces white sparks because titanium doesn’t have enough iron.