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Product Value Chain

The Metalysis process transforms metal oxides into metal powders. The process has numerous advantages over its rivals:

Cleantech

Cost-Effective

Transformational

  • Benign reagents
  • No toxic by-products
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lower energy consumption
  • Fewer process steps
  • Lower operating cost
  • Excellent return on investment
  • Metal powder production
  • Near net shape
  • Solid-state alloying
  • Expand existing / Create new markets

The Process
A metal oxide, such as titanium dioxide, is delivered to the processing site in powder form. The metal oxide powder is processed into a powder feed so that the right powder sizes and alloying contents can be achieved in the metal powder. These are then placed into a crucible (reduction vessel) containing the molten salt (usually calcium chloride) which is held at between 800°C and 1000ºC. This contrasts with many conventional processes which need to melt metals at much higher temperatures before refining can take place. The advantage therefore is that less energy is required, which is especially significant in alloy production. The reduction vessel is kept in an argon-rich atmosphere to avoid re-oxidisation of the product. The metal oxide then forms the cathode in the reduction vessel. When an electric current is passed between the cathode (negative electrode) and a carbon anode (positive electrode) the oxygen is removed from the metal oxide. The oxygen passes through salt and reacts with the carbon anode to form carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These gasses bubble off leaving the pure metal on the cathode. The pure metal is in a powder form after the oxygen atoms are removed. Any remaining impurities, such as salts, are washed out. It is then dried and ready for use. Since the process operates in the solid state it is ideal for producing alloys using combinations of elements possessing dissimilar melting points, not possible by conventional means.

The Kroll Process
The incumbent technology, which the Metalysis process could eventually supplant, is the Kroll process, which accounts for almost 100% of titanium production today, even though the process is very inefficient.  The result of high cost of manufacture inherent in the Kroll process is that titanium is treated more like a precious metal.  By contrast, the Metalysis process has the potential to operate continuously which means it can be much cheaper. Using the Metalysis process, the price of titanium, which now costs about five times more than stainless steel, could fall significantly to the extent that titanium produced by the Metalysis process could, given the superior properties of titanium, be used to substitute speciality stainless steels for industrial applications, for example in the automotive industry.