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Aviation industry to fuel demand for titanium, other specialty metals

Technological advances are fueling increasing demand for titanium, as well as other specialty metals in the aviation industry.

According to the Metal-Pages blog, the industry is relying increasingly on titanium to construct lighter airplanes in an effort to reduce fuel consumption.  Thanks to the metal’s high strength-to-weight ratio, the use of titanium allows for achieving substantial weight reduction without compromising safety.

The effort to increase fuel efficiency will also lead to a growing demand for metals like chromium, and molybdenum which, among others are used in the manufacture of aircraft engines.  Correspondingly next generation aircraft will be more dependent on elements like rhenium, tantalum and hafnium, all of which help make turbines more corrosion- and heat-resistant.

While this may sound like just another interesting story of technological change, this development has further-reaching implications as a look at page six of the USGS Mineral Commodities Summaries, which depicts U.S. import dependency for metals and minerals, shows. In spite of the fact that the U.S. has vast reserves of titanium and rhenium, for example, the U.S. currently imports 81 % of the titanium we use, while our import dependency for rhenium is at 100% – thus leaving our domestic industries unnecessarily vulnerable to supply disruptions.