The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH) has successfully developed a technology to recycle titanium, and transferred the technology to machine processing company Hansco on December 3.
So far, Korea has imported titanium raw materials and has been dependent on overseas technologies to manufacture and process titanium metal. The metal has been produced in a very small amount and sold at high prices.
To address the problem, a team led by Dr. Moon Byung-moon at KITECH started in 2011 to develop a technology that can recycle titanium metal using an electromagnetic induction device and hydrogen plasmas.
The main point is to reclaim titanium scrap metal that is produced in the process of manufacturing titanium ingots.
In the past, titanium scrap with a lot of impurities could not be recycled, and therefore it was exported to other countries with a low price. However, the recycling of titanium scrap metal will be possible with the development of the new technology. As a result, it is expected that 1,500 to 2,000 tons of titanium per year will not be taken out of the country. The saved amount represents 40%-50% of the total imported titanium ingots (4,000 tons annually).
On top of that, the team made it possible to produce high-purity titanium ingots by totally removing gas impurities using hydrogen plasma for the first time.
Meanwhile, the size of the global titanium market is estimated at US$3.1 trillion (based on 2012 data), showing 10% annual growth despite the global economic recession.