Where Found (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium minerals are found in the United States in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah. Major international sources are China, Russia, and South Africa. Vanadium is usually associated with igneous rocks and often with other metals, such as lead, iron, chromium, and uranium.
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Primary Uses (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium combined with iron, called ferrovanadium, is used in making special steels valued for their toughness, resistance to wear, and stability at high temperatures. Approximately 92 percent of U.S. consumption of vanadium is for alloying iron and steel, with the balance used in catalysts for chemical production.
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Technical Definition (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium (atomic number 23, chemical symbol V) is a shiny metallic element with a density of 6 kilograms per liter (less than iron) that melts at 2,188 kelvin (higher than iron). It is malleable when pure but becomes brittle in the presence of impurities, particularly carbon. It is stable in air at room temperature but oxidizes above 920 kelvin. There are isotopes of mass numbers 50 and 51 (V50 and V51) of which the former is weakly radioactive.
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Description, Distribution, and Forms (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium occurs in the Earth’s crust at an average concentration of 136 parts per million; it is the nineteenth most abundant element. Vanadium minerals include patronite (VS4), vanadinite (Pb5 [VO4]3Cl), carnotite (K[UO2][VO4]), and more than sixty others. Vanadates are sometimes found in phosphate rock or titaniferous magnetite. Small amounts of vanadium occur in petroleum, oil sands, oil shale, coal, and meteorites. Certain sea creatures, such as sea squirts (ascidians), accumulate vanadium from seawater, attaining concentrations ten million times higher in their blood than are in the water. Low levels of vanadium are found in most plant and animal tissues, where its function is not always clear. The average human body contains about 1 milligram of vanadium.
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History (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium was first noticed by Andrés Manuel del Rio (1787-1849) in 1801 in Mexico. Del Rio found evidence of an element he called erythronium in a lead ore (probably what would today be recognized as vanadinite). He later retracted his discovery based on consulting with chemists in France. In 1830, Nils Gabriel Sefström (1787-1895), a student of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848), working in Sweden, isolated material from iron-making slag that he realized was the same as the erythronium reported by Del Rio. He named the element vanadium after the Nordic goddess Vanadis. Neither Sefström nor Del Rio succeeded in isolating the pure metal. Berzelius was the first to describe the element’s properties in detail. Approximately 70 percent pure metallic vanadium was prepared by Henry E. Roscoe (1833-1915) in 1867, but purity approaching 100 percent was not achieved until the twentieth century.
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Obtaining Vanadium (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Preliminary treatment of ores involves crushing, pulverizing, and sifting, followed by flotation procedures to eliminate unwanted silicates. The ore concentrates are then roasted in air with sodium carbonate to yield sodium metavanadate. The latter is converted to vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) by acidification, using sulfuric acid followed by strong heating. Vanadium pentoxide is the starting material for preparation of other vanadium compounds, or of the metal itself. Heating the pentoxide to high temperature (1,223 kelvin) with calcium in the absence of air yields metallic vanadium. The metal may also be obtained by reaction of trichloride with magnesium or (in small amounts with high purity) by thermal decomposition of the triiodide. Ferrovanadium for steelmaking contains about 50 percent vanadium and is made by heating the pentoxide with ferrosilicon and lime in an electric furnace. The lime combines with the silicon to form slag.
The United States imports 76 percent of its ferrovanadium from the Czech Republic. Most of the U.S. production of vanadium is from slag, petroleum combustion residues, fly ash, or recycled catalysts. Carnotite, when processed for its uranium content, yields vanadium as a by-product, but mining of other vanadium minerals is uneconomical in the United States.
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Uses of Vanadium (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Vanadium is used in alloys for aircraft and for nuclear applications. Vanadium compounds are also used in ceramics and as catalysts in the production of maleic anhydride and sulfuric acid.
Pure elemental vanadium is too expensive for any but the most critical applications. One is the use of vanadium foil on steel to which titanium is to be bonded. Pure vanadium is also used to make a superconducting alloy with gallium (V3Ga) for use in electromagnets. This substance becomes superconducting below 15 kelvin.
Larger amounts of vanadium are used in special steels. In these cases, the starting material is ferrovanadium, which may contain up to 80 percent vanadium (lower grades are available). Tool steels containing vanadium, iron, and chromium are used for socket wrenches, pliers, and knife blades. Vanadium content of tool steels can be as high as 4 percent. Smaller amounts of vanadium (a few tenths of a percent) are added to many steels to combine with carbon and nitrogen and improve grain size. Some of the beneficial effects of vanadium in steel result from vanadium carbides, which may form spontaneously from the carbon in steel or may be added as such. Vanadium carbides are produced by heating sodium metavanadate with carbon in a vacuum furnace.
Vanadium steel finds application in automobile parts such as axles, transmission parts, and springs, where it is valued for its light weight, toughness, and resistance to...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Emsley, John. Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Kaminski, Walter. “Polyolefins.” In Handbook of Polymer Synthesis, edited by H. R. Kricheldorf et al. 2d ed. New York: Marcel Dekker, 2005.
Lide, David R., ed. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. 87th ed. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2006.
Polyak, Désirée E. “Vanadium.” In Minerals Yearbook: Metals and Minerals 2007. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009.
Tracey, Alan S., Dail Ruth Willsky, and E. Takeuchi. Vanadium: Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Practical Applications. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2007.
Wiberg, Egon, Nils Wiberg, and A. F. Holleman. Inorganic Chemistry. New York: Academic Press, 2001.
Woollery, M. “Vanadium and Vanadium Alloys.” In Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 5th ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2007.
Natural Resources Canada. Canadian Minerals Yearbook, 2001: Vanadium. http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/smm-mms/busi-indu/cmy-amc/content/2001/65.pdf
U.S. Geological Survey. Mineral Information: Vanadium Statistics and Information. http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/vanadium/
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Vanadium (Chemical Elements)
Vanadium is a transition metal that lies toward the middle of the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to one another. Groups 4 through 12 are the transition metals.
Vanadium was discovered in 1801 by Spanish-Mexican metallurgist Andrés Manuel del Río (1764-1849). The element was re-discovered nearly 30 years later by Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefstrom (1787-1845).
By far the most important application of vanadium today is in making alloys. An alloy is made by melting and mixing two or more metals. The mixture has properties different from those of the individual metals. Vanadium steel, for example, is more resistant to wear than ordinary steel. A potentially important new use of vanadium is in the manufacture of batteries. These batteries show promise for use in electric cars.
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Vanadium (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
Named after the Scandinavian goddess of youth and beauty, vanadium is a trace element that has gained attention in recent years as a possible aid in controlling diabetes. While such macrominerals as calcium, magnesium, and potassium have become household names because they make up over 98% of the body's mineral content, certain trace minerals are also considered essential in very tiny amounts to maintain health and ensure proper functioning of the body. They usually act as coenzymes, working as a team with proteins to facilitate important chemical reactions. Even without taking vanadium supplements, people have about 205 micrograms (mcg) of the mineral in their bodies, which is derived from an average balanced diet. Despite the fact that vanadium has been studied for over 40 years, it is still not known for certain if the mineral is critical for optimal health. Whether taking extra amounts of vanadium is therapeutic or harmful is even more controversial. Like chromium, another trace mineral, vanadium has become the focus of study as a possible aid in lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Vanadium has also been touted as a potential treatment for osteoporosis. Some athletes and weight lifters take it to build muscle or improve performance.
Studies in animals suggest that vanadium may be necessary for the formation...
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