Home » Mintek’s Impril Technology Revolutionizes Titanium Smelting Efficiency

Mintek’s Impril Technology Revolutionizes Titanium Smelting Efficiency

Enhanced Process Reduces Energy Use, Supports Sustainable Industrial Growth

by Adenike Adeodun

In a groundbreaking move, Mintek, a leading national mineral research organization in South Africa, has developed an innovative process technology named Impril, which promises to revolutionize titanium production by significantly enhancing efficiency and sustainability. The announcement was made by Dr. Molefi Motuku, the CEO of Mintek, highlighting the organization’s pivotal role in advancing the titanium industry globally.

Titanium oxide (TiO2) is a crucial component widely used for creating white pigments essential in various industries, including paints, plastics, cosmetics, paper, and textiles. The new Impril process, developed by Mintek, aims to improve the extraction and processing methods to meet the growing demand for titanium while adhering to environmental sustainability standards.

Dr. Motuku emphasized Mintek’s dedication to technological innovation that not only propels the mining and metals sector forward but also reduces the ecological footprint of mineral processing. “Our Impril process can play a significant role in the advancement of the titanium industry globally. It reflects Mintek’s commitment to driving technological innovations that enhance mineral recovery, increase efficiency, and promote sustainability, supporting the industrialization and growth of the mining and metals sector in South Africa,” he stated.

The development of the Impril process was the result of extensive research into titanium ore processing by Mintek’s scientists. The process involves the manufacturing and pre-treatment of carbon-based ilmenite pellets in hydrogen-enriched synthesis gas, followed by smelting in an electric arc furnace. This innovative method offers several advantages over the conventional ilmenite smelting processes, primarily by significantly reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Traditional ilmenite smelting is known for its high electrical energy requirements. In contrast, the Impril process can cut electricity usage by up to 40%, presenting a substantial cost-saving and environmentally friendly alternative. Dr. Xolisa Goso, the head of Mintek’s pyrometallurgy division technology development, noted, “In comparison to conventional ilmenite smelting approaches, the Impril process has not only proven to be more energy-efficient but also improves smelting furnace operability.”

One of the critical operational benefits of the Impril process is its ability to mitigate slag foaming, which often occurs during smelting. This is attributed to the lower quantity of gas generated in the smelting stage, which enhances the overall stability and efficiency of the operation. “Particularly, it holds a distinct advantage in significantly mitigating slag foaming occurrences, attributed to the lower quantity of generated gas in the smelting stage,” Dr. Goso added.

The lower carbon footprint of the Impril process marks it as a sustainability-conscious choice, aligning with global efforts to reduce industrial emissions and promote green manufacturing practices. The environmental benefits extend beyond reduced emissions, contributing to cleaner production processes within the titanium industry.

Mintek’s innovation is set to have a significant impact on the development and sustainability of downstream titanium industries, including the production of TiO2 pigments, and titanium metal and alloys. The improved efficiencies and sustainability of the Impril process could enhance the competitiveness of South African titanium in the global market, encouraging further investment and development in the region’s mining and metallurgical sectors.

As Mintek positions the Impril process as a transformative solution for the ilmenite smelting industry, it not only promises to improve operational efficiencies but also to contribute to a more sustainable future. This development is expected to attract attention from global industry players and stakeholders looking to invest in environmentally responsible and economically viable production technologies.

In conclusion, Mintek’s breakthrough in titanium processing technology with the Impril process represents a significant stride towards modernizing production techniques and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the mining and metallurgy industry. By integrating innovation with sustainability, Mintek is helping to ensure that the titanium industry remains vibrant and capable of meeting the needs of modern applications while being mindful of its environmental responsibilities.


Source: Mining Weekly

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