Kollam: India on Sunday join a select band of titanium sponge producers with Defence Minister AK Antony inaugurated a 500 tonne-capacity plant at Chavara near here.
A select group of nations like the US, China, Japan and Britain have the technology for industrial-scale production of titanium sponge.
Titanium and its alloys are used in strategic fields like aerospace, armour plating, naval shipbuilding, missiles and nuclear power plants.
They possess high corrosion, crack and fatigue resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio and the ability to withstand moderately high temperatures.
The technology in this crucial area was developed by the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) in Hyderabad. The project is being financed by the Indian Space Research Centre's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) situated in Thiruvananthapuram.
India has the third largest deposits of titanium in the world, distributed primarily along the coast of the southern peninsula.
Mining of the ore and its conversion to pigment-grade titanium dioxide on commercial scale is already being done at by Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited.
The new technology developed and provided by DMRL to KMML would convert titanium dioxide to pure titanium sponge and thus complete the ore-to-product processing of titanium.