Yet another story on the power of the rational mind, in this case in the field of metallurgy:
Titanium is as strong as steel, but weighs only about 60 percent as much. It’s also highly resistant to corrosion, and handles temperature extremes well. So, not surprisingly, the aerospace industry wants to use much more of it in the next generation of planes, making them lighter and reducing fuel costs.
But there’s a hitch: at around $40 per pound today, titanium is expensive — and the price keeps going up.
Now a startup, Avanti Metal, using technology developed at MIT, hopes to commercialize a process that drastically reduces the cost of producing titanium, making more of it available for large, lighter-weight airplanes…
Jeffrey Sabados, president of the four-person Avanti, estimates that, based on production plans published by Boeing and Airbus, there’ll be a 30,000-ton shortage of titanium by 2010. He claims that Avanti’s process for refining titanium could slash costs to about $3 per pound. Then, if the metal then sells for even $25 per pound, an estimate he calls conservative, it’s a huge potential profit.
This reminds me of the scene from Atlas Shrugged, where Hank Rearden is describing Rearden Metal to the newspaper reporters:
“Yes, gladly,” said Rearden. “Inasmuch as the formula of Rearden Metal is my own personal secret, and in view of the fact that the Metal costs much less to produce than you boys can imagine, I expect to skin the public to the tune of a profit of twenty-five per cent in the next few years.”
What do you mean, skin the public, Mr. Rearden?” asked the boy “If it’s true, as I’ve read in your ads, that your Metal will last three times longer than any other and at half the price, wouldn’t the public be getting a bargain?”
“Oh, have you noticed that?” said Rearden.
If only there were more such capitalists to “exploit” consumers like me!(Via /.)