The uses for titanium in the industry are growing faster than ever before as more and more engineers are discovering it can reduce lifecycle costs across a broad range of equipment and processes. Titanium has an exceptionally high strength to weight ratio. Titanium’s favorable density (approximately half that of ferrous and nickel-based metals) means that when equipment costs are calculated on a per unit area of measure basis, rather than per pound, the differential cost of material required narrows dramatically. In other words, about half as much titanium is required to do the same job, based on strength, or the same weight of titanium will go twice as far. Further closing the gap, when applied properly, titanium requires no corrosion allowance; pressure and structural requirements for the system are the only criteria for specifying wall thickness. Any remaining higher upfront costs are almost always recouped in multiple due to increased production time and reduced maintenance.
Titanium forms a very tenacious surface oxide layer, which is an outstanding corrosion inhibitor. In many harsh environments, it can outlast competing materials as much as 5:1. Lower failure rates translate to less downtime, reduced maintenance, and total lower cost. As a result, titanium has found a home in numerous industries ranging from power generation to chemical processing to desalination plants.
In power generating plants, where saline, brackish or polluted waters are used as the cooling medium, titanium thin wall condenser tubing will last for the life of the condenser (with a 40-year warranty against failure under proper conditions) and eliminate the need for a corrosion allowance.
Many chemical processing operations specify titanium to increase equipment life. It offers lifecycle cost advantages over copper, nickel, and stainless steel grades while providing initial cost advantages over materials such as high nickel alloys, tantalum, and zirconium.
In petroleum exploration and production, titanium pipe’s lightweight and flexibility make it an excellent material for deep-sea production risers. In addition, titanium’s immunity to attack by seawater makes it the preferred material for topside water management systems. It is used on existing platforms in the North Sea and many more projects are in the planning stages. And since it shows virtually no corrosion in saltwater, titanium is also the material of choice in desalination plants worldwide.
Titanium alloys are used in dozens of other industrial purposes, such as flue gas desulphurization for pollution control, PTA plants for polyester production, pressure vessels, heat exchangers, and hydrometallurgical autoclaves. Each grade is tailored to specific operating conditions, emphasizing strength for different pressures, alloy content for different corrosive agents, and ductility for different fabrication requirements.