EcoTitanium: recycling on new planes

Titanium and titanium alloys are ideal materials for the aeronautics industry: they are 44% lighter than steel, resist corrosion and have excellent mechanical properties. Yet, the availability and mining of the metal are challenging, often involving expensive techniques and long transport routes.

Such challenges can now be overcome with the first European plant producing aviation-grade titanium with recycled materials. The new company, EcoTitanium, produces titanium metal and alloys from scrap collected from large aeronautics construction companies and their subcontractors. Situated in Saint‐Georges-de-Mons (Puy-de-Dôme) in France, the plant was inaugurated in September 2017, having previously received a EUR 30 million loan from the EIB. The loan is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

EcoTitanium will provide the aerospace industry in Europe with a new supply channel, giving it better control over its sourcing of titanium, a strategic raw material for the sector, in a context of sharp growth of aerospace markets. The project required investments of EUR 48 million and will create at least 60 highly qualified direct jobs as well as induced jobs. It will therefore strengthen the metallurgical skills and employment hub in the region. At full capacity, EcoTitanium will produce several thousand tonnes of titanium alloy ingots each year to cater for the growing titanium demand in the aeronautics market. It will also avoid emissions of 100,000 tonnes CO2, consuming four times less energy than a traditional ore-based production plant. Apart from its high economic and social impact, the project will contribute to climate action by way of resource- and energy-efficient recycling of titanium.