Recycling scrap titanium for aerospace applications

IperionX Limited & Heroux-Devtek agree to underpin a 100% recycled titanium supply chain using scrap titanium metal from the aerospace industry

This agreement between Heroux-Devtek the Canadian landing gear specialist and IperionX, an American supplier of titanium and other critical materials such as rare earth and zircon minerals, promises to ease the US aerospace industry's reliance on mined titanium. Heroux-Devtek specialises in the design, development, manufacture, and repair of landing gear, actuation systems and components for the global aerospace market. It serves both the commercial and defence aerospace sectors and is the third largest landing gear company in the world.

Under this partnership, Heroux-Devtek will supply IperionX with Ti-6Al-4V alloy scrap metal generated from landing gear manufacturing. In turn, IperionX will employ its patented titanium processing technologies to convert this titanium scrap into low-carbon titanium for future applications. The processing of the Heroux-Devtek titanium scrap will be expertly managed by Aperam / ELG Utica Alloys, under their existing partnership with IperionX.

Titanium integral to aerospace applications

The aerospace industry depends on titanium, given its superior strength, light weight, and exceptional corrosion resistance. Titanium is integral to a myriad of aerospace applications, including airframe structural components, engine components and landing gears. The proportion of titanium used in large commercial aircraft has significantly increased over the last two decades and now accounts for around 15% of the weight of modern unladen aircraft.

Titanium has been mass produced in the same way since the 1940s when the existing Kroll process was developed. The Kroll process is energy intensive, high cost and produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the current manufacturing process for titanium products generates large volumes of titanium waste that is typically downcycled to the ferro-titanium market or shipped to landfill. Titanium has the potential to be a key critical material that can be substituted for more widely used higher-carbon metals, particularly stainless steel and aluminium. It is a superior metal to stainless steel and aluminium due to its properties including high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent corrosion resistance and is critical to the global aerospace, medical, space and defence sectors.

IperionX’s patented titanium production technologies use less energy to produce titanium, at lower costs, with zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and provides a pathway to sustainable production of titanium by using 100% scrap titanium as feedstock. In addition, aerospace industry landing gears also use other high performance titanium alloys, including Ti-5553 and Ti-10-2-3, that are valued for improved fracture toughness and strength. IperionX's technologies can upcycle these titanium alloys, eliminating the need for a re-melt process, and allow these alloys to be used in a range of new high-performance applications.

Dominique Dallaire, Heroux-Devtek Vice-President Central Division commented: “The partnership between Heroux-Devtek and IperionX establishes a new benchmark in the sustainability of the aerospace supply chain through the development of low carbon titanium materials for North American markets. We look forward to building upon this agreement and investigating the potential application of fully circular recycled titanium metal within Heroux-Devtek’s future operations.”

“We are pleased to partner with Heroux-Devtek to develop a sustainable, circular titanium supply chain for the advanced U.S. industries," added Anastasios (Taso) Arima, IperionX CEO and co-founder. "This partnership with Heroux-Devtek provides IperionX with a diversified, long-term supply of titanium feedstock for the production of American titanium and will enhance the sustainability of the aerospace supply chain.”

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