Titanium: Occurrence, Uses, and Isotopes of Titanium

  • Titanium is a transition metal located in group 4 and period number 4 in the periodic table.
  • The atomic number of titanium is 22 whereas its atomic mass is 47.867.
  • Titanium contains 22 electrons in its single neutral atom.
  • The nucleus of titanium has 22 protons and 26 neutrons.
  • It is represented by the symbol “Ti”.
Naming and History

The term “Titanium” is from the Greek word “Titan”. In Greek mythology, titans – the sons of the Earth goddess.

  • Reverend William Gregor

In 1791, geologist Reverend William Gregor discovered the first titanium mineral, black sand known as menachanite in Cornwall, England. He observed that it was black sand with magnetic properties like gun powder. He further analyzed it and deduced the result that it consisted of oxides of iron in addition to an unknown metal.

He named that unknown metal “reddish-brown calx”.

  • Martin Heinrich

In 1795, the famous German scientist Martin Heinrich in Hungary found titanium in mineral rutile. It was of red color just like the reddish calx of Gregor. He realized the red oxide in titanium of rutile and menachanite of Gregor was the same. He named it titanium after Titans – the sons of Earth.

  • Mathew Hunter

In 1910, Mathew Hunter who was metallurgist, first isolated the pure titanium metal by heating titanium chloride with sodium in a pressure cylinder.

Occurrence of Titanium

Titanium does not occur free in nature but is the ninth most abundant element present in the Earth’s crust. It mostly occurs in igneous rocks and sediments rocks which are derivative of igneous rocks.

The major ores and minerals of titanium are ilmenite, titanite, anatase, rutile, brookite, leucoxene, perovskite, sphene, etc. The major suppliers of titanium to the world are Canada, Western Australia, Norway, South Africa and North America.


Properties of Titanium

Titanium is strong, hard, silvery–whitish, lustrous, corrosion-resistant, and a lightweight transition metal. Chemically, it shows many similarities with zirconium. In the aqueous phase, it shows similarities with chromium and vanadium. At high temperatures, it forms a protective oxide coating which gives it a corrosion-resistant nature, but at normal temperature, it resists tarnish.

It is insoluble in water but can dissolve in concentrated acids. On heating, titanium is malleable and ductile. On combining with halogens, or heating to obtain dioxide, metal burns in the air.

The melting point of titanium is 1668°C and its boiling point is 3287°C. It has a density of 4.5 grams per cubic centimeter and exists as a solid phase at room temperature.

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Titanium in Biological Systems

There is no known significant role of titanium in biological systems. Titanium is considered to be non-toxic but some of its compounds are suspected to be carcinogenic.

Uses of Titanium
  1. Titanium has the strength of steel but is light in weight. Therefore, it is used in alloying. It is alloyed with aluminum, iron, and molybdenum. These alloys are used in aerospace applications such as space crafts, air crafts, missiles, etc.
  2. It is so resistant that after 4000 years in saltwater, corrosion only would have penetrated the thickness of metal into a thin sheet. That is why used in structures exposed to the sea such as ship hulls, shafts, etc.
  3. Titanium is used in bicycles, crutches, laptops, etc.
  4. Titanium oxide is used in paint pigments, plastics, and enamels.
  5. Titanium is used in biological implants, in joints such as ball and socket joint replacement, hips, pins for bone settings.
  6. Man-made gemstones (soft in nature) are made by using titanium.
  7. Titania is a white pigment used in toothpaste, food coloring, and sunscreen.
  8. Smokescreens are made by using titanium tetrachloride. This compound is also used to iridize glass.
  9. Titanium is an excellent infrared radiation reflector.
  10. It is also used in the desalination of plants.
Isotopes of Titanium

There are almost 18 known isotopes of titanium whose mass numbers range from 39 to 57. The most abundant naturally occurring isotope of titanium is Ti- 48 with 73.7%.

MCQs about Titanium

  • What is the atomic number of titanium?
    • A) 4
    • B) 22
    • C) 9
    • D) 47.867
    • Answer: B) 22
  • Who discovered the first titanium mineral, menachanite?
    • A) Reverend William Gregor
    • B) Martin Heinrich
    • C) Mathew Hunter
    • D) Titans
    • Answer: A) Reverend William Gregor
  • In which country was titanium first discovered in the mineral rutile?
    • A) England
    • B) Hungary
    • C) Germany
    • D) Norway
    • Answer: B) Hungary
  • What is the major ore of titanium?
    • A) Ilmenite
    • B) Hematite
    • C) Bauxite
    • D) Magnetite
    • Answer: A) Ilmenite
  • What is the melting point of titanium?
    • A) 1668°C
    • B) 3287°C
    • C) 4.5 g/cm³
    • D) 22
    • Answer: A) 1668°C
  • What is the primary use of titanium in aerospace applications?
    • A) Structural material
    • B) Fuel
    • C) Lubricant
    • D) Sealant
    • Answer: A) Structural material
  • What is the most abundant naturally occurring isotope of titanium?
    • A) Ti-22
    • B) Ti-39
    • C) Ti-48
    • D) Ti-57
    • Answer: C) Ti-48
  • What is the density of titanium?
    • A) 4.5 g/cm³
    • B) 22
    • C) 1668°C
    • D) 3287°C
    • Answer: A) 4.5 g/cm³
  • Which metal is titanium commonly alloyed with?
  • What is the significance of titanium oxide in paint pigments?
    • A) Enhances drying time
    • B) Improves glossiness
    • C) Acts as a UV blocker
    • D) Enhances adhesion
    • Answer: C) Acts as a UV blocker
  • Which compound of titanium is used in the production of smokescreens?
    • A) Titanium dioxide
    • B) Titanium chloride
    • C) Titanium nitride
    • D) Titanium carbide
    • Answer: B) Titanium chloride
  • What is the primary role of titanium in biological implants?
    • A) Antibacterial properties
    • B) Biocompatibility
    • C) Enhancing bone growth
    • D) Conductivity
    • Answer: B) Biocompatibility
  • What is the origin of the name “titanium”?
    • A) Latin word for “metal”
    • B) Greek mythology
    • C) German chemist’s name
    • D) Indigenous language term
    • Answer: B) Greek mythology
  • Who first isolated pure titanium metal in 1910?
    • A) Reverend William Gregor
    • B) Martin Heinrich
    • C) Mathew Hunter
    • D) Titans
    • Answer: C) Mathew Hunter
  • In which form does titanium primarily exist in biological systems?
    • A) Free ions
    • B) Complexes with proteins
    • C) Oxides
    • D) Metallic form
    • Answer: C) Oxides
  • What is the primary application of titanium in the production of man-made gemstones?
    • A) Enhancing color
    • B) Increasing hardness
    • C) Improving clarity
    • D) Providing luster
    • Answer: D) Providing luster
  • How many isotopes of titanium are known?
    • A) 9
    • B) 18
    • C) 39
    • D) 57
    • Answer: B) 18
  • What role does titanium play in the desalination process?
    • A) Enhances water purity
    • B) Increases water acidity
    • C) Facilitates membrane separation
    • D) Acts as a catalyst
    • Answer: C) Facilitates membrane separation
  • What is the primary reason for using titanium in ship hulls?
    • A) Enhancing speed
    • B) Reducing weight
    • C) Improving buoyancy
    • D) Preventing corrosion
    • Answer: D) Preventing corrosion
  • Which mineral was first discovered by Reverend William Gregor containing titanium?
    • A) Ilmenite
    • B) Rutile
    • C) Menachanite
    • D) Anatase
    • Answer: C) Menachanite
  • What is the primary reason for using titanium oxide in sunscreen?
    • A) Acts as a preservative
    • B) Provides fragrance
    • C) Absorbs UV radiation
    • D) Improves texture
    • Answer: C) Absorbs UV radiation
  • What is the symbol for titanium?
    • A) Ti
    • B) Tt
    • C) To
    • D) Ta
    • Answer: A) Ti
  • What is the primary reason for using titanium in bicycles?
    • A) Enhancing durability
    • B) Reducing weight
    • C) Increasing speed
    • D) Improving aerodynamics
    • Answer: B) Reducing weight
  • Which element shares chemical similarities with titanium in the aqueous phase?
    • A) Zinc
    • B) Iron
    • C) Chromium
    • D) Aluminum
    • Answer: C) Chromium
  • Which scientist first discovered titanium in the mineral rutile?
    • A) Reverend William Gregor
    • B) Martin Heinrich
    • C) Mathew Hunter
    • D) Titans
    • Answer: B) Martin Heinrich
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In conclusion, titanium, a versatile transition metal with atomic number 22, plays a pivotal role in various industries owing to its unique properties and abundant occurrence. From its discovery by Reverend William Gregor in 1791 to the isolation of pure titanium metal by Mathew Hunter in 1910, titanium’s naming and history are rich with scientific curiosity and mythological inspiration.

Titanium primarily occurs in igneous rocks and sediments, with major ores including ilmenite, rutile, and titanite. Its remarkable properties, such as strength, corrosion resistance, and lightweight nature, make it indispensable in aerospace, marine, biomedical, and consumer applications. Despite its lack of significant biological roles, titanium finds extensive use in biological implants, paints, plastics, and sunscreen due to its biocompatibility and inertness.

Furthermore, titanium’s isotopes offer avenues for scientific research and industrial applications, with Ti-48 being the most abundant naturally occurring isotope.

In essence, titanium’s ubiquity, combined with its exceptional properties and diverse applications, underscores its importance in modern technology and industry. Whether in aerospace engineering, medical implants, or everyday consumer products, titanium continues to demonstrate its versatility and value.

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