A K Antony inaugurates Titanium sponge plant at Kollam in Kerala
Written by Ravi   
Tuesday, 01 March 2011
Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony, inaugurated India's first Titanium sponge plant at Chavara near Kollam in Kerala. It has been set up at Kerala Mines and Minerals Ltd, with the technology developed by Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), Hyderabad a laboratory under DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization).

The plant has a capacity to produce 500 tonnes per annum of premium quality titanium metal in the form of sponge.

DMRL has a strong programme for the development of aeronautical grade titanium alloys. Technologies for such alloys have been transferred to Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI), Hyderabad. Mining and benefaction of the ore and its conversion to pigment grade titanium dioxide on commercial scale has been practised by the Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML), near Kollam. Thus, the technology developed at DMRL bridges an important gap in the ore-to-product processing of Titanium - conversion of Titanium tetrachloride to pure titanium sponge.

A major step towards building self-reliance

Titanium is extracted in the form of titanium sponge from its oxide minerals, however, the sponge production process is complex and cumbersome. The technical know-how for the production of titanium sponge has so far been available with only a few countries such as Japan, USA, UK and China. Commercial utilization of the DMRL technology for production of Titanium sponge by the KMML enlists the country among nations possessing this technology. India is now poised to be one amongst the select group of nations having the technology for industrial scale production of titanium.

Titanium and its alloys are strategically important material for aerospace, armour plating, naval ships, missiles, nuclear power plants and chemical industries. They possess combination of high corrosion resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio, fatigue resistance, crack resistance and ability to withstand moderately high temperatures without creeping.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum, which is a major user of titanium sponge, has funded the plant.

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