City skylines are often dominated by concrete, steel and glass, but underneath, titanium often provides the core structure that provides stability. What’s more, the material is often ripe for innovation, and today new materials allow titanium to filter harmful air. From this through to enabling durable and flexible construction that protects against natural disasters, titanium is set for a renaissance in urban planning and construction.
Increasing demand for titanium
A key indicator of increased titanium use in construction is found through production statistics. According to Forbes, there is an ongoing demand for titanium which has seen global production rise 11%. This demand encompasses building material demand, dioxides for paint and other coatings, and for small scale use. Of particular interest, however, is the increased demand for ASTM rated Grade 5 titanium. Typically, Grade 5 is less useful for building construction, but excels in engineering applications – most notably, wind turbines, solar generation, and other complicated renewable fuel devices. This points towards greater use of titanium in renewable applications, a crucial aspect for modern cities.
Innovation in renewable energy
One problem with renewable energy in cities concerns placement. The equipment required to generate electricity can be unsuitable for the urban environment, either through insufficient space or environmental conditions. As such, many cities import energy from further afield, which can be wasteful. New science has employed titanium to tackle this issue. One technique, reported by Science Daily in September 2018, used ultra-thin titanium dioxide layers to collect solar power more efficiently and with less space required. This will transform the logistical challenge that cities face in making first-hand solar power. The same can be said for urban wind turbines, too. Currently, only small scale projects are feasible; however, according to Innovation for Toronto, titanium-based vertical wind turbines will create a situation where wind power can be generated within cities. This will also be a more sustainable and efficient solution.
Rise of the modular home
According to real estate analysts Thomas, prefab building is only going to be come more important. According to their research, prefab construction grew threefold between 2010 and 2016, and the rise has continued. Titanium fits into this perfectly. Alongside concrete, titanium is well renowned for its flexible yet strong qualities. Pairing the two materials together creates quick and easily deployed prefab homes that will become more and more important. Young professionals are struggling to get on the housing ladder and there is an increased demand on space, hence the towering constructions flying up in many population centers alongside cramped, converted properties. Titanium shelters are a perfect way to manage this and to do it in a sustainable way.
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Titanium has been around for a while, but its full range of applications haven’t been discovered yet. Increasingly, innovators are looking to the sturdy, flexible and durable metal to provide solutions to urban planning headaches. Indications are that the metal will have a key role to play in the cities of tomorrow, both in terms of space management and sustainability.