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Titanium is light, strong and resistant to corrosion and is the metal of the future. Explore its past in this timeline.

1791: Titanium discovered

William Gregor, Vicar of Creed Parish in Cornwall and amateur geologist, examines magnetic sand from a local river. After removing the magnetic iron oxide and treating the residue with hydrochloric acid, he is left with an impure white oxide of a new element.

1795: Titanium named

Martin Heinrich Klaproth, a chemist working in Germany, independently isolates a white oxide from a Hungarian mineral known as rutile. He gives the name titanium to the new metal element.

1910: Metal isolated from oxide

Matthew Hunter, an American chemist, isolates the metal from its oxide.

1916: Commercial application

Titanium dioxide becomes available as a commercial product and is used as a white pigment in paints.

1932: Titanium production breakthrough

Wilhelm Justin Kroll, from Luxembourg, produces significant quantities of titanium by combining titanium tetrachloride with calcium.

1940: Kroll Process developed

Kroll moves to America and modifies his process to meet commercial standards. Today, titanium is produced by the “Kroll Process”.

1948: Commercial production

The DuPont Company is the first to produce titanium commercially.

1960s: Military applications

Russia uses titanium alloys in military and submarine applications, while America uses titanium alloys for engine parts and fuselage/wing coverings in high-performance military aircraft.

1985: Titanium hip

The first hip replacement operation using titanium alloy implants. Titanium alloys are biocompatible, corrosion-resistant, able to carry mechanical loads and are lightweight.

2001: Titanium heart

First artificial heart transplant operation. The metallic parts are made of titanium.

2008: Titanium plane

Airbus A380, capable of carrying 550 passengers, weighs in at 280 tonnes – 145 tonnes of this is the titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V.

Find out more, in this video on titanium’s special properties.

    Published 17 September 2009, Updated 29 April 2014