Titanium and its alloys offer superior corrosion resistance in the oxidizing sulfuric acid environments present in sulfide pressure leaching operations. Their use is limited due to their pyrophoricity in high-pressure oxygen environments. We investigated the ignition resistance of several titanium alloys in oxygen using a tensile rupture technique. A commercial titanium alloy, niobium-55 wt. % titanium (Nb-55 Ti), was found not to ignite at pressure and temperature conditions under which Grade 2 titanium and other standard titanium alloys ignite. The decreased ignitability of titanium when alloyed with niobium is discussed in terms of a burn factor (the ratio of heat of oxidation to thermal diffusivity) and alloy microstructure. Nb-55 Ti, selected for its corrosion resistance, mechanical properties and reduced pyrophoricity compared to standard titanium alloys, has been successfully used in sulfide pressure oxidation equipment.
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