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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2008-12-20 11:48
  Subject:   Smelt your own titanium at home, using thermite reduction.
  Tags:  reddit


I was able to make titanium using equipment I had lying around. I did it with thermite reduction, a process commonly used to weld train tracks. In an iron thermite reaction, iron oxide reacts with aluminum and comes out as liquid iron. I just swapped in titanium dioxide instead. But that reaction, in which titanium dioxide transfers its oxygen atoms to aluminum, doesn't release enough heat to melt the materials.

So I mixed in drywall plaster (calcium sulfate) and more aluminum powder. They react to create huge amounts of extra heat, enough to melt the titanium and allow it to pool at the bottom of the container. Adding ground fluorite powder makes the molten metals more fluid and protects the titanium from air as it cools.


While the entire procedure has been designed with the safety of the experimenter in mind, it has to be noted that during reaction temperatures well in excess of 3,800 F are being generated, so keeping one's distance and some rudimentary insulation against these excessive heats are advisable.


This is the best McGuyverism ever. Need some titanium for your fancy gadget? Just throw some white powder pigment, aluminium shavings, and drywall plaster together and light it up! Boom, pure titanium metal!
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