Titanium sponge is the main raw material for making industrial titanium alloys. Its appearance is loose and porous sponge-like, and it is lively and easily oxidized. This porous titanium sponge cannot be used directly. It must be melted into a liquid before it can be cast into titanium ingots, titanium rods, and other titanium products. In this article, let’s take a deeper look at the production processes of the titanium sponge.
Titanium tetrachloride is the main raw material for the production of titanium sponges. At present, there are three main methods for preparing titanium tetrachloride: boiling chlorination, molten salt chlorination, and vertical furnace chlorination.
Boiling chlorination is currently the main method for producing titanium tetrachloride.
Boiling chlorination is a method of preparing titanium tetrachloride by using fine particles of titanium-rich material and solid carbonaceous (petroleum coke) reducing agent to perform chlorination in a fluidized state under the action of high temperature and chlorine gas flow. After decades of research and development, this method has a mature production process and has been widely used around the world.
Molten Salt Chlorination
Molten salt chlorination is a method of suspending finely ground titanium slag or rutile and petroleum coke in a molten salt (mainly composed of KCl, NaCl, MgCl2, and CaCl2) medium, and introducing chlorine gas to prepare titanium tetrachloride.
Vertical Furnace Chlorination
Vertical furnace chlorination is the third method of preparing titanium tetrachloride.
First, the chlorinated titanium slag (or rutile) and petroleum coke are finely ground. Then, the binder is added to it, mixed uniformly, agglomerated, and coked. Next, the produced agglomerates are stacked in a vertical chlorination furnace in a solid layer state and react with chlorine gas to prepare titanium tetrachloride. This method has basically been eliminated due to low output and low product quality.
The purification of titanium tetrachloride mainly includes the use of the rectification method to remove high boiling point impurities and low boiling point impurities and the chemical method to remove vanadium impurities.
The reduction-distillation method to produce titanium sponges generally adopts two combined methods, the “I-type combined method” and the “∩-type combined method”. The I-type combined method is also called the series method, and the ∩-type combined method is also called the parallel method. The two methods have their own unique advantages.
At present, many titanium sponge plants have widely adopted multi-pole electrolytic cells and magnesium electrolytic cells without separators. This technology is very advanced, which greatly reduces the power consumption and chlorine consumption during the production of the titanium sponge.
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