In the book Constructing Green: The Social Structures of Sustainability, authors Henn and Hoffman introduced “Titanium” as a rating comprising the best of green construction. It is a precious ranking, unlike the metal which is present in abundance. Its durability, corrosion resistance and recyclability make titanium a metal of many talents, with applications beyond construction.
One such application is building bicycle parts. Low-carbon titanium developer IperionX (ASX: IPX) has teamed up with Canyon Bicycles to develop a more sustainable titanium-based supply chain for the bicycle industry. It will employ IperionX’s 100% recycled and low-carbon titanium to produce bicycle components.
The global bicycle industry is a large and growing market, with over 1.3 billion adults riding bikes, amounting to total sales of approximately $70 billion in 2021. This number is projected to grow to $85 billion by 2025.
Some of the most coveted bicycles are mountain bikes, gravel bikes, road bikes, and hybrids, which account for about 60% of global bike sales by unit and 70% of sales are in the European and North American markets. The high-end sector of the market—Canyon’s focus—has a market size of around $18 billion and is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2030.
Given its popularity and changing consumer sentiment, Canyon is set to cater to riders’ functional demands and sustainable sensitivities.
CEO and Managing Director of IperionX, Anastasios (Taso) Arima, said, “Our partnership with Canyon highlights the importance of fully circular, sustainable materials to customers with leading environmental goals. We are very pleased to be applying the patented technologies to create 100% recycled titanium parts for a leading company in a very large addressable market, and we look forward to progressing the partnership towards the extended use of titanium in bicycle production.”
IperionX, which aspires to become America’s leader in titanium processes, is working with Canyon’s product development and ESG teams to produce bicycle components using IperionX’s low-carbon, recycled titanium metal powders through additive manufacturing methods, like 3D printing. The parties have agreed upon an initial project to prototype Canyon bicycle parts, including bicycle frames.
Chief Operating Officer at Canyon, Alison Jones, commented, “Connecting IperionX to our product development and ESG teams is allowing us to identify bicycle components that can be produced using their low-cost, low-carbon, fully recycled titanium powders. This is a real breakthrough technology for us and we look forward to deploying this innovative technology in the production of more sustainable titanium for use in Canyon bicycles.”
Previously, Canyon has demonstrated its commitment to being more sustainable by adopting cradle-to-cradle production principles, i.e. ensuring a sustainable product life cycle from creation to disposal to recycling. It is also researching how to integrate similar approaches across advanced materials and future manufacturing platforms. Using titanium is one of them.
Titanium is a highly sought-after material for bicycle frames due to its strength and lightweight properties, with a weight that is approximately half that of steel. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, which means that paint is not needed as a corrosion inhibitor. Despite these benefits, its use in bike components has been limited by its high cost compared to materials such as carbon frames. Additionally, the current supply chain for titanium has a high carbon footprint due to the energy-intensive Kroll process of extracting pure titanium.
IperionX is changing that. The partnership between IperionX and Canyon reflects the growing interest in sustainability within the global bicycle industry and also bolsters IperionX’s ongoing partnerships in the luxury goods segment.
The initial agreement between the two companies will last until June 30, 2023. Upon successful completion of the initial prototyping, Canyon and IperionX intend to negotiate an agreement for larger-scale production.
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