Rev. William Gregor of England
Not necessary for life.
Named after the Titans of Greek mythology, titanium is a hard, lustrous, white metal. It is very corrosion resistant and generally not affected by air, water, acids or bases. Titanium is very common in the Earth’s crust, being the 9th most common element. It is also common in meteorites, the Sun and Moon. Titanium oxide spectra are used by astronomers to identify cool red dwarf stars. Titanium has many uses, in chemical production, and where light, strong alloys are needed. Titanium is strong as steel, but 45% lighter. Its high melting temperature is useful in high-temperature applications where weight is important, especially in engines and other parts of aircraft and spacecraft. Titanium is resistant to seawater corrosion, so it is popular for uses that are constantly exposed to the sea. The former Soviet Union built several of their submarine hulls out of titanium, making very strong and very expensive submarines. Titanium dioxide is used as a dye in some white paints and as a yellow food additive. It also is opaque to ultraviolet light, and often used in sunscreen lotions. Titanium is used in fireworks, due to the colors it produces when it is burned. Titanium is the only element that will burn in a pure nitrogen atmosphere.
Titanium has no known biological use in humans, although it is known to act as a stimulant. In some plants, titanium is used in chemical energy production.
Role in Life Processes
No known benefits for life processes in animals; has some minor health benefits in plants.
Titanium chiefly is obtained from the minerals rutile, ilmenite and rarely from anatase (beta-titanium dioxide). Other titanium-bearing minerals include perovskite, sphene and titanite. These minerals resist weathering and are concentrated in placers and wind-blown sand deposits. Titanium is mined in Australia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Russia and Japan. Ilmenite is a common mineral on the Moon. Any future settlements on the Moon would likely use titanium as a primary building material.