Born Nov 24 1889 - Died Mar 30 1973
Method for Manufacturing Titanium and Alloys Thereof
Patent Number(s) 2,205,854
In 1932, Luxembourg native William Kroll invented a process to produce metallic titanium. He combined titanium tetrachloride with calcium to produce ductile titanium. By 1938, Kroll had produced 50 pounds of titanium using his process, later named the "Kroll Process". Titanium in its pure form had been discovered by William Gregor in 1791, but it was difficult to obtain from its natural state and, when heated, it yielded a useless substance.
Titanium is the fourth most abundant structural metal on Earth and today remains vital in the production of jet engines and piping systems. It is also used in artificial hips and knees and is a key ingredient in golf clubs, watches and marine equpment.
While researching the newly processed titanium, Kroll realized its strength and anti-corrosion potential. With the rise of Nazi power surrounding him, Kroll decided to take his metallurgic findings to the United States, ending up at the U.S. bureau of Mines. At the bureau, Kroll was able to apply the same process to zirconium. By 1945, Kroll had rolled out his first zirconium strip. By 1948, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission became interested in using zirconium for structural elements of reactors.
Zirconium can be found in jet engines, radar equipment, surgical instruments and fiber optics. Zirconium's optimum nuclear and corrosion properties made it a key ingredient in the construction of the first atomic submarine reactor.