A hi-tech metals pioneer in Rotherham has signed a deal with Australian Mines to produce highly-prized scandium.
Metalysis has partnered with AM to produce cheaper, purer scandium oxide using ore from a new site in Queensland.
The car and plane industry is interested in ‘aluminium scandium’ because it is light, strong and – unlike pure aluminium – can be spot-welded.
Metalysis has pioneered a method of producing rare metals faster, cheaper and greener than any other.
It uses electrolysis to extract metals and alloys from their solid oxides by ‘molten salt electrolysis’ at 1,000 degrees.
It has been shown to produce an alloy containing 30 per cent scandium compared to the industry’s current two per cent.
An Australian Mines spokesman said: “If we are able to utilise Metalysis’ process to produce a scandium-rich master alloy, the outcome could be a 93 per cent reduction in the amount required to make the final aluminium-scandium metal requested by end-users.”
Metalysis is backed by investors who have pumped in £92m over the last 17 years.
Chief executive Dion Vaughan said: “We are very pleased to welcome another international partner to our R&D project portfolio, and look forward to commencing a particularly exciting work programme together.
“Aluminium-scandium alloys are a huge subject of interest to Metalysis, and while their cost implications are well-known, so are their highly beneficial characteristics.
“We will use Metalysis’ process to explore opportunities to materially improve their cost setting and deliver a high-demand, high-spec product.
“Achieving this would pose truly revolutionary results and create an important area of potential growth for both parties.”
Metalysis is featured in ‘Rotherham Roars’, The Star’s celebration of Yorkshire’s fastest growing economy Click here to read the supplement