As part of efforts to indigenously produce strategic materials for its space programme, ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Government of Kerala Undertaking, Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML), Chavara for establishing a 500 Tonne per annum Titanium Sponge Plant. The Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad, developed the technology for the titanium sponge plant.

Dr B N Suresh, Director, VSSC, and Shri K P Rajendran, Managing Director, KMML, at Thiruvananthapuram, signed the MOU yesterday (January 2, 2006) in the presence of Shri G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO, and Shri T Balakrishnan, Principal Secretary, Industries, Govt. of Kerala.

Titanium Sponge is used for the production of aerospace grade Titanium. It is a scare raw material and is being imported so far. India has a vast reserve of titanium bearing minerals but, in the absence of a plants to produce titanium sponge meeting the requirement of high quality aerospace applications, the mineral is mainly exported or converted into titanium oxide pigment with very little value addition. The present MOU is expected to give a thrust for titanium production in the country. As per the MOU, the production plant will be set up at KMML with necessary infrastructure to upgrade the plant to produce 1000 tonne per year at a cost of Rs 95 Crore funded by ISRO.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Madhavan Nair said that the MOU is a major milestone in the indigenous production of strategic materials for aerospace applications. Shri Balakrishnan assured that KMML and the Govt. of Kerala are committed towards this project and all efforts will be made to set up the project within two years. Dr B N Suresh, Director, VSSC, Shri R V Perumal, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Dr P P Sinha, Deputy Director, VSSC, Shri K P Rajendran, Managing Director, KMML and Shri C S Ramachandran, Scientist, DMRL also spoke on the occasion.