IperionX wins $500,000 US Air Force contract
The company is now eligible to produce titanium metal powders for the AFRL
IperionX has been announced as the winner of the US Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Grand Challenge contract. As a result, IperionX will be eligible to produce titanium metal powders from scrap materials and rejuvenate used or out-of-specification titanium powder for the AFRL.
Winning this Grand Challenge is an important validation of IperionX’s patented technologies to produce circular, low-carbon, and lower-cost titanium metal from 100% recycled titanium scrap or out-of-specification titanium powder feedstocks.
The US Air Force and the US Department of Defense are accelerating the use of additive manufacturing to reduce long lead cycle times and to produce large volumes of complex parts for advanced weapons systems.
According to IperionX, only 20-40% of titanium powder used in additive manufacturing ends up in fabricated parts. Titanium metal powders are typically reused only a limited number of times before the quality is compromised by elevated contaminant levels or inferior powder morphology. Out-of-specification titanium powders increase the probability of defects and jeopardize the structural integrity of additively manufactured components.
Titanium metal produced by the current ‘Kroll Process’ is high carbon-producing, energy-intensive, and expensive. There is a demand across the defense, automotive, consumer electronics, and luxury goods sectors for low-carbon, low-cost titanium from traceable recycled sources. IperionX’s technologies offer a pathway to significantly lower cost, and lower carbon titanium metal powders for titanium components in these industries.
The patented technologies were developed by Dr. Zak Fang, an American Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Utah, and uniquely position IperionX to upcycle a wide variety of low-grade, high-oxygen content titanium scrap which has historically been downcycled to lower-value markets. IperionX is able to achieve greater yields of nearly 100% from low-grade scrap without the need for blending the scrap with high-grade primary metal.
Winning the Grand Challenge also complements IperionX’s project with Materials Resources, to qualify titanium alloy powders for the US Navy, and test titanium flight-critical metal replacement components for the US Department of Defense.
The winner of the Grand Challenge is eligible for a contract award of up to $500,000 across four phases – with IperionX successfully completing Phase 1, and expected to complete Phases 2 – 4 as part of routine production operations at its Titanium Pilot Facility, in Utah.
“Winning the Grand Challenge is an outstanding endorsement of IperionX’s patented titanium technologies,” said Anastasios Arima, CEO of IperionX. “Our leading technologies can efficiently recycle titanium scrap metal and metal powders at lower cost than existing processes, and we look forward to working closely with NSIN, AFRL, and other Department of Defense agencies to qualify and rapidly deploy the use of circular titanium metal across key defense platforms.”
“The AFRL team is excited to work with IperionX on the next phase of the titanium recyclability Grand Challenge. IperionX seemed to really understand the purpose of the Grand Challenge and pitched a unique strategy to deoxygenate and rejuvenate used titanium powders and scrap materials back into powder suitable for additive manufacturing of aerospace-quality parts. We can’t wait to see the results of all the hard work yet to come!” said Dr. Calvin Mikler, Materials Engineer at the AFRL.
The Grand Challenge contract is valued at up to $500,000 across four phases, including white paper submission and pitch day ($125,000), generation of a precursor titanium feedstock ($125,000), titanium powder production ($225,000), and building, testing, and analyzing cost savings for the overall concept ($25,000).