“Normally you have to give up something to get the sustainability. In titanium you don’t need to.” – Taso Arima on the sustainability of the IperionX titanium production.
In this episode of EnvironMental Podcast, we spoke with Taso Arima, founder of IperionX, a titanium production company.
Now, we’ll be honest. We don’t know very much about metal production except that it’s dirty. It involves mining and chemical processing that leaves a huge carbon footprint. So when we were introduced to Taso, we were understandably cautious.
But as soon as we actually met Taso, we were completely blown away. IperionX really is changing the future of one of the dirtiest metals on the planet!
What Makes Titanium Production so Dirty?
Although titanium is widely abundant throughout the world, it is also highly reactive and almost never found in its pure form. Titanium mining is resource heavy and leaves almost 40% of the titanium to be scrap or dropped into a landfill. The remaining 60% is refined using a process that was developed in the 1940s by William Kroll.
Titanium is strong and very heat resistant, which makes it versatile and sought after, but every step of the Kroll titanium production process comes with a hefty carbon footprint. To create products from titanium, it needs to be mined, extracted, purified, made porous, and then made into a workable alloy. The low yield and high energy intensity, not to mention byproducts like CO2, chlorine gas, and hydrochloric acid makes titanium expensive and environmentally unsustainable to produce.
Taso told us that even Kroll knew when he developed the process that titanium production could be made cleaner! But no one had done it. Until now.
Is Sustainable Production Possible?
Yes! Not only is the IperionX titanium production sustainable, titanium is infinitely recyclable without breaking down, so the company is working to enable titanium circularity.
Remember how we said that there is a 40% loss within the mining process? Currently, IperionX is buying up that unwanted, previously wasted, material. Rather than the Kroll process, the IperionX team uses a process developed by Dr. Zak Fang that replaces the carbon and chlorine with hydrogen. The replacement eliminates chlorine and carbon from the production process and significantly reduces energy emissions. Their final product is a useable titanium powder that can be used for 3D printing everyday items.
Taso told us that because of their titanium recovery method and revolutionary process, IperionX is essentially a netzero company with the goal to decarbonize modern consumer products!
And yes, they are selling the titanium to consumer brands, so watch out for it, because you will start seeing their titanium in consumer products more and more.
How to Follow Iperionx
We aren’t chemists, so if you have questions about sustainable titanium production, you should reach out to the IperionX team on their website here: iperionx.com