Science and technology minister, Derek Hanekom and CSIR CEO Dr Sibusiso Sibisi officially unveil the plaque at the Ti Pilot plant.
Science and technology minister, Derek Hanekom and CSIR CEO Dr Sibusiso Sibisi officially unveil the plaque at the Ti Pilot plant.

The Department of Science and Technology has allocated more than R100 million via the Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC) over the next two years.

The CSIR’s titanium pilot plant was officially opened in Pretoria by South African science and technology minister, Derek Hanekom.“Titanium metal powder is regarded as the product of the future," Hanekom said. "We are pleased to note the commendable progress and successes achieved from our investments in research and development, human capital development and technology infrastructure since 2006."

According to Hanekom, the plant represents a breakthrough in the production of titanium metal powder using a novel continuous process, instead of the more conventional batch process. "This proprietary technology offers significant cost and efficiency advantages, and is expected to give South Africa a comparative advantage in the production of titanium metal and finished products," he added.

South Africa’s entire titanium beneficiation strategy depends largely on the success of this pilot plant and its further commercialisation. However, the plant is still a research facility and its output will determine whether or not to proceed to a full commercial-scale demonstrator plant.

“We are confident that [this] historical launch not only unleashes a new era for SA titanium but also strategically positions South Africa as a key player in the international titanium arena,” said Dr Willie du Preez, director of the CSIR Titanium Centre Of Competence. “The titanium pilot plant will undoubtedly stimulate further development of various economic sectors within South Africa with dynamic long-term advantages that include a full commercial-scale demonstrator plant that will take us into 2020 and beyond.”

The CSIR has now teamed with Boeing to commercialise the technology.

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