What is Vanadium?
Vanadium is a hard metal that is malleable and ductile.
When was Vanadium discovered?
A Mexican mineralogist, Andres Manuel del Rio, first discovered vanadium in 1801 and called it panchromium because of the array of colours exhibited by its salts. However, he was convinced by others that what he had found was no more than an impure sample of chromium, and so the discovery was lost. It wasn’t until the 1830’s that the Swede Nils Sefstrom rediscovered the metal and named it vanadium after the Norse goddess of beauty and fertility, Vanadis.
Where is Vanadium found?
Vanadium is found within about 65 different minerals, the major one being magnetite. The vast majority of the world’s vanadium is mined in China, Russia, and South Africa. It has also been found in crude oil, coal, and bauxite. When vanadium bearing oil products are burned, the vanadium present can start off corrosion in the engine or boiler used to burn the oil.
What are the uses of Vanadium?
Over 80% of vanadium produced is used as an additive in steel production. When alloyed in this way, the steel gains in strength, particularly good for axles, crankshafts, and gears in motors where such parts might be placed under high stress. Its also alloyed with aluminium and titanium to be used in jet engines, where lightness is required as well as strength.
Who are the main Vanadium Producers?
Xstrata produces the vanadium pentoxide and ferrovanadium from its South African mines, and Canada’s Energy Fuels mines for vanadium and uranium.
Vanadium and New Energy
Vanadium is gaining in popularity as a mineral in battery technology. It’s considered a green energy technology because its can be cycled again and again without damaging its lifespan. Unfortunately, to produce battery grade vanadium takes an expensive process and its energy density is low. This means that vanadium batteries are bigger and more costly than, for example, their lithium counterparts.