Elements for Kids
Characteristics and Properties
Under standard conditions titanium is a hard, light, silvery metal. At room temperature it can be brittle, but it becomes more malleable at higher temperatures.
One of titanium's most valuable qualities is its high strength-to-weight ratio. This means it is both very strong, but also very light. It is twice as strong as aluminum, but only weighs 60% more. It is also as strong as steel, but weighs much less.
Titanium is fairly inactive and is very resistant to corrosion from other elements and substances like acids and oxygen. It has a relatively low electrical and thermal conductivity.
Where is titanium found on Earth?
Titanium is not found as a pure element in nature, but is found in compounds as part of minerals in the Earth's crust. It is the ninth most abundant element in the Earth's crust. The most important minerals for mining titanium are rutile and ilmenite. The top producing countries of these ores are Australia, South Africa, and Canada.
How is titanium used today?
The majority of titanium is used in the form of titanium dioxide (TiO2). Titanium dioxide is a very white powder that has a number of industrial uses including white paint, paper, plastics, and cements.
Titanium is used to alloy with different metals such as iron, aluminum, and manganese where it helps to produce strong and lightweight alloys for use in spacecraft, naval ships, missiles, and as armor plating. Its resistance to corrosion makes it especially useful in sea water applications.
Another valuable characteristic of titanium is that it is biocompatible. This means that it will not be rejected by the human body. This quality, coupled with its strength, durability, and light weight, make titanium an excellent material for medical use. It is used in various applications such as hip replacements and dental implants. Titanium is also used in jewelry to make rings and watches.
How was it discovered?
Titanium was first recognized as a new element by Reverend William Gregor in 1791. The English clergyman enjoyed studying minerals as a hobby. He named the element menachanite. The name was later changed to titanium by German chemist M.H. Kalproth. The first pure titanium was produced by American chemist M. A. Hunter in 1910.
Where did titanium get its name?
Titanium gets its names from the Titans who were Greek gods.
Titanium has five stable isotopes including titanium-46, 47, 48, 49, and 50. The majority of titanium found in nature is in the form of the isotope titanium-48.
Interesting Facts about Titanium
- It is the only element that will burn in pure nitrogen gas.
- Titanium oxide is often used with graphite to make high-end golf clubs and tennis rackets.
- Titanium containers are used to store nuclear waste.
- It is found in meteorites, on the Moon, and in some types of stars.
- The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is covered with titanium plated tiles.
More on the Elements and the Periodic Table
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