Industry & Market:
Rolls-Royce, Metalysis to Set Up Tantalum Plant
A Malaysian subsidiary, Metalysis Malaysia Sdn Bhd, has been formed to lead the R&D using the Fray-Farthing-Chen (FCC) Cambridge process to produce the supergrade tantalum.
Tantalum is a high-value metal used in the production of electronic components, and is mainly used in capacitors, mobile phones, PCs and automotive electronics. The FFC process, developed by academics at Cambridge University's Materials Department, is a novel method for the extraction of metals and alloys from their solid oxides by molten salt electrolysis.
The new process is claimed to be simpler and consumes less energy, making it more environmentally-friendly than many current industrial technologies, such as the Kroll process. It helps achieve cheaper production of useful reactive metals such as titanium, zirconium and tantalum.
Metalysis Ltd is a Cambridge University spin-off company set up in 2002 to exploit the industrial process based on the FFC technology. According to Metalysis chief executive, Dr Graham Cooley, "Tantalum powder is a first product for the company and a good platform upon which to build strong revenue growth in future."
Rolls-Royce is funding the R&D facility with US$5 million, in support of the country's industrialization efforts.
"We are particularly pleased to have been able to secure the development of this leading-edge technology exclusively to Malaysia, as a further demonstration of our long-standing commitment to the country. Malaysia is a key market for Rolls-Royce and we look forward to continuing a long and rewarding relationship," said Rolls-Royce chief executive, Sir John Rose.
Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Rolls-Royce has provided Malaysia with an entry point into the global advanced materials market. "We hope to see more companies setting up such ventures in Malaysia to take advantage of the competitive cost and contribute to the enhancement of our technological capabilities," he said.
Metalysis Ltd will hold a 52% stake in the joint venture while Rolls-Royce and the government-funded Malaysian Technology Development Corp (MTDC) will each have a 24% stake in Metalysis Malaysia.
The Malaysian government (via MTDC) plans to raise an additional US$10 million to finance the production facility in Kulim.
by Julian Matthews