There are two basic technology categories for desalination systems: membrane/reverse osmosis, and thermal distillation (evaporation). Thermal distillation is broken out into three sub categories: MSF; multiple effect evaporation (MED), and vapor compression. Titanium finds most of its applications in the thermal distillation category, use for tubing, valves and water-storage vessels. By contrast, titanium has only limited use in reverse osmosis systems, primarily in pump heads.
With titanium often the economic choice for seawater application the importance of the technical case cannot be overstated and should be revisited. Many application engineers have ignored the potential for titanium based on the misconception that titanium is hard to find and if found was too expensive to consider. For that reason the technical case for titanium in seawater service is presented here in this article.
The industrial titanium market has expanded globally both in terms of supply and application to process plant equipment. Even considering the recent collapse of base metal prices, titanium still has an economic advantage over materials comprised predominately of copper and/or nickel. While the price gap with these more common materials of construction has narrowed titanium still brings an economic benefit to projects.