IperionX Wins U.S. Air Force Titanium Recycling Challenge
The AFRL Grand Challenge involved selecting the most commercially promising technology for producing titanium metal powders from scrap titanium for use in additive manufacturing.
January 20, 2023
IperionX Limited announces that it is the winner of the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network Air Force Research Laboratory Grand Challenge contract. As a result, IperionX will be eligible to produce titanium metal powders from scrap materials and rejuvenate used or out-of-specification titanium powder for the AFRL. The Grand Challenge is a competitive challenge program hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network.
Winning this Grand Challenge, against a field of titanium industry participants, is a validation of IperionX’s technologies to produce circular, low-carbon and lower cost titanium metal from 100% recycled titanium scrap or out-of-specification titanium powder feedstocks.
Titanium metal produced by the current “Kroll Process” is high carbon and energy intensive. Companies across the defense, automotive, consumer electronics and luxury goods sectors want to source low carbon, low-cost titanium from traceable recycled sources. IperionX’s technologies offer a pathway to lower cost and lower carbon, titanium metal powders for titanium components in these industries.
The technologies were developed by Dr. Zak Fang, an American professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Utah, and position IperionX to upcycle low-grade, high oxygen content titanium scrap. IperionX is able to achieve greater yields of nearly 100% from low-grade scrap without blending the scrap with high-grade primary metal, according to the compamy.
The winner of the Grand Challenge is eligible for a contract award up to $500,000 across four phases, with IperionX successfully completing Phase 1, and will complete Phases 2–4 as part of routine production operations at its Titanium Pilot Facility in Utah.
“Our leading technologies can efficiently recycle titanium scrap metal and metal powders at lower cost than existing processes, and we look forward to working closely with NSIN, AFRL and other Department of Defense agencies to qualify and rapidly deploy the use of circular titanium metal across key defense platforms,” says Anastasios (Taso) Arima, IperionX CEO.
“The AFRL team is excited to work with IperionX on the next phase of the titanium recyclability Grand Challenge,” says Dr. Calvin Mikler, materials engineer, AFRL. “IperionX seemed to really understand the purpose of the Grand Challenge and pitched a unique strategy to deoxygenate and rejuvenate used titanium powders and scrap materials back into powder suitable for additive manufacturing of aerospace-quality parts.”
The winner of the Grand Challenge is eligible for a contract award up to $500,000 across four phases:
- Phase 1 ($125,000): White paper submission and pitch day
- Phase 2 ($125,000): Generation of a precursor titanium feedstock
- Phase 3 ($225,000): Titanium powder production
- Phase 4 ($25,000): Build, test, and analyze cost savings for the overall concept
IperionX has successfully completed the requirements for Phase 1, and currently undertakes Phases 2 to 4 at its operational titanium pilot facility in Salt Lake City, UT.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.
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