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.