Sumitomo Titanium to Add Small Reducing Furnaces

Sumitomo Titanium Corporation strengthens the marketing to develop user needs for coming expansion of sponge titanium with new smelting process. The firm will introduce small reducing furnaces in May to accelerate test for the commercialization under the joint development with Kobe Steel. The firm develops the new continuous reduction process, called calcium reduction with Toho Titanium, Kobe Steel and Nippon Steel as national project with 2 years subsidy provided by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The process has better productivity than traditional Kroll process with magnesium. The new process uses calcium, which is cheaper and better in reactivity than magnesium, for heat reduction. The new process is expected to reduce the production cost by around 30% from now. Sumitomo Titanium, which is in charge of the core technology of the project, expends 600 million yen for itself to develop the process. The sponge titan made by the new process is used for heat exchanger, automobile parts and construction materials though the products cannot be applied for critical parts of airplane, which needs 99.99% of purity, due to the 99.9% purity. Sumitomo Titanium considers building annual 10,000 tonnes of mass production plant in future. The firm is estimating the future demand along with the application development in consumer use. President Masaaki Tachibana of Sumitomo Titanium said manufactures have to meet the user needs with close communication with the customers rather than traditional stance to sell the products. He tries to turn the firm into total solution provider from a raw material supplier. The new process development with 7 full time workers is at the preliminary stage in the laboratory. The project team introduces 3 small reducing furnaces with 2 meters height. The development team shifts from batch process to continuous process and to larger sized plant for the mass production.