Why the titanium target price is high?
Titanium target price is not cheap mainly due to the high price of its raw material titanium. Titanium sputtering target is mainly used for various film coatings, such as tool coating, optics coating, solar coating, and the like. However, its high price is a big obstacle for its popularity and development.
We generally think gold & platinum are expensive because of their scarcity, but how about titanium? Is it a precious metal? Well, among the list of the top 10 most precious metals in the world, titanium, unfortunately, doesn’t get its place, which is a foregone conclusion. Titanium is present in the Earth’s crust at a level of about 0.6% — the fourth most abundant structural metal after aluminum, iron, and magnesium.
However, titanium is always bonded to other elements in nature. Since titanium extraction is complex and costly, the price of the titanium product is high.
The most important mineral source of titanium is rutile (TiO2). To extract titanium from rutile, we need first convert the TiO2 into titanium(IV) chloride, which is then reduced to titanium using either magnesium or sodium.
Converse TiO2 into TiCl4
Chemical equation: TiO2+2Cl2+C→TiCl4+2CO
Heat the ore rutile (impure TiO2) with chlorine (Cl2) and coke (C) at a temperature of about 1000°C. Other metal chlorides are also formed during this process because the ore rutile is composed of multiple compounds including TiO2. To separate very pure liquid TiCl4 from other chlorides, additional fractional distillation under an argon or nitrogen atmosphere is required.
Reduce the titanium(IV) chloride
Chemical equation: TiCl4+2Mg→Ti+2MgCl2
Generally, we use magnesium to reduce TiCl4. Pass the TiCl4 vapor into a reaction vessel containing molten magnesium in an argon atmosphere at a temperature about 1000°C. This process takes a relatively long time about 2 days, followed by several more days of cooling. After it is cooled, crush the reaction mixture, and add dilute hydrochloric acid to make sure all the magnesium have completely reacted. All the magnesium chloride will dissolve in the water present, and the remaining titanium is processed further to purify it.
Titanium Price Trend
Here is a Titanium and Titanium-Base Alloy Price Index by Commodity from 1971 to 2018. Before 2006 (the peak), the titanium price kept increasing steadily, and the increase is extremely quick from 2003 to 2006. After 2016, its price gradually decrease. In the first stage, the price of titanium is not high, because 1) the demand is low and 2) the requirement of the titanium purity is not high. When it comes to the second stage, people demand more titanium materials and prefer to high-quality titanium. Its price started to decrease because of the development of titanium extraction technology in the third stage.
From the graph, we can clearly see that the titanium is not as expensive as it used to be. Along with the technical further development and perfect, the titanium price is expected to reduce. At present, the titanium target price is no longer expensive, and it seems that it will be more widely used in film coating industries.
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