SECO/warwick Europe and Retech Systems (USA), have signed a contract to deliver a comprehensive melt shop equipment package to a new European facility for recycling of aviation-grade titanium.

The EcoTitanium unit, launched in December 2014, aims to build and operate Europe’s first recycling plant for aviation grade titanium. The plan is to provide the aerospace industry with a new supply channel, independent of American and Russian sources, giving it better control over its sourcing of titanium.

 The full delivery will be comprised of three metallurgical units: one plasma arc melting furnace (PAM), two vacuum arc remelting furnaces (VAR), and accompanying equipment.

According to the company, plasma melting systems can consistently produce titanium alloy ingots and castings more efficiently than other competing technologies. This is primarily due to the fact that the systems operate under an inert gas atmosphere which allows the alloy composition of the metal to be maintained easily with minimal evaporative losses, as opposed to other processes which operate in a vacuum.

Furnace system

The Retech PAM system integrates mechanisms with melting systems and control techniques. The feed system consists of a rotary can feeder and vibratory chute combination that deliver turnings to the melt hearth. Also included is a bar feeder for feeding titanium scrap. Once in the melt hearth the material is melted by Retech’s transferred-arc plasma torch. Material continues on to a series of refining hearths where both high and low density inclusions are removed under the action of the plasma torches and the residence time provided by the refining hearths. An ingot is formed within the water-cooled copper mold on top of a matching water-cooled copper puller. As the puller withdraws out the bottom of the mold, the titanium alloy solidifies as new liquid continues to flow into the top of the mold. The system will be able to produce large ingots which will be then used as electrodes for VAR system.

The two vacuum arc remelting furnaces are equipped with two melt stations and are designed to melt and refine titanium and titanium alloy final ingots. These ingots will be produced from fully-dense electrodes produced by Retech’s plasma cold hearth melting process. New ingots will be formed in copper crucible by melting of the consumable electrode under the vacuum conditions by the means of the electric arc.

 EcoTitanium launched on December 17th, 2014, has the aim to build and operate Europe’s first recycling plant for aviation grade titanium.

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