Metalysis produces tantalum powders directly from metal oxide using its one-step electrolysis technology.
Metalysis produces tantalum powders directly from metal oxide using its one-step electrolysis technology.

Metalysis says that has completed a series of successful commercial production runs of tantalum powder at its production plant in South Yorkshire, UK.

The company reports that this is the first new primary tantalum metal production plant in Europe for more than 30 years.

Metalysis produces tantalum powders directly from metal oxide using its one-step electrolysis technology and has been making enough to fulfil customer orders during Q4 of 2014 and Q1 of 2015.

 The technology uses far less energy than traditional processes, requires no chemicals and produces no toxic waste and is environmentally benign as compared with traditional production techniques that have remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years. Furthermore, the metal powder produced directly in this one step process has a high surface area and is nodular; both functional properties necessary for electronic components such as capacitors, found in items such as smart phones, laptops and pace makers.  The tantalum metal can also be used as an alloying element for current and next generation super alloys, which are used extensively in jet engines.

 The small industrial plant has now completed more than 30 commercial scale production runs producing significant amounts of tantalum powder. 

3D printing

Metalysis is also studying methods of creating a spherical grade of powder for 3D printing. Being an expensive metal, the use of powders for 3D printing could offer customers in the petrochemicals, processing and biomedical industries both cost savings and better functionality versus traditionally machined parts.

‘With the successful commercial production of significant quantities of tantalum, Metalysis is expediting the widespread use of high performance metals in a range of industries including 3D printing,’ said Dion Vaughan, CEO of Metalysis. ‘The commercial production of tantalum powder at our new plant demonstrates that the Metalysis technology is scalable and mature. We are now looking forward to expanding its application across the periodic table into new metals and markets.’ 

This story is reprinted from material from Metalysis, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.