Scope of the Helmholtz-University Young Investigator Group
The demand for high performance light weight components increases permanently. Therefore, titanium alloys and their composites become more and more interesting. Yet, the costs very often hinder the serial use of titanium. For reducing the costs new processes are currently developed. Some processes are based on the reduction of titanium dioxide in molten salts. However, a break-through has not yet been achieved. A promising variation proposed by the partner university is based on a titanium dioxide-carbon-composite-anode, by which the titanium is solved in the molten salt and deposited at the cathode. By using a material possibly suitable for the reinforcement in composite materials, e.g. ceramic or carbon fibres, as the product of the electrolysis a titanium matrix composite is obtained. Compared to any other known routes, the process proposed is characterised by its drastically reduced number of processing steps, especially in regard to the process of titanium chloride production and the electrolytic magnesium reduction. Thus, it includes significant economical and ecological advantages.
The aim of the Helmholtz-University Young Investigator Group is the development of the proposed process up to an operational industrial scale. A positive result would influence the application of metal matrix composites exceeding that of titanium alloys and their application in aerospace industry. In order to reach this ambitious aim, first of all basic research has to be performed to broaden the knowledge. Secondly, suitable procedures and equipment have to be developed in order to realise the process.
In the proposed process the electrochemical aspect of the titanium dioxide-carbon-composite-anode will be examined by the Institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling at the RWTH Aachen University. The deposition at the cathode and the production of titanium matrix composites will be analysed at the Institute of Materials Research of the DLR - German Aerospace Center, Cologne. Despite the separation of the fields of activity, the success of the research work is based on the close collaboration of the partners and on the exchange of the results.
Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres
German Aerospace Center
RWTH Aachen University