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Vanadium

What Is Vanadium?

Vanadium is a soft, silvery-white transition metal. It is ductile and corrosion resistant. In powder form it is a light-gray colour with a silvery sheen. It is found chemically combined in nature mostly in fossil fuel such as coal, oil shale, tar sands and crude oil and in 65 different minerals like bauxite and magnetite.

Vanadium is also produced from steel smelter slag, as a by-product of uranium mining or from flue dust of heavy oil. Vanadium is also a trace nutrient found in the body and food and is consumed daily as part of the human diet.

What Is Vanadium Used For?

Vanadium is mainly used in speciality steel alloys for high powered tool steels like crankshafts, axles, springs and cutting tools. It also used in jet engine parts and gears for cars. Vanadium is used as a bonding agent between steel and titanium and is also used to make special tubes and pipes for the chemical industry.

Vanadium has some use in the nuclear energy industry, as a mordant to permanently fix dyes to fabrics, in the manufacture of ceramics and to form superconductive magnets. Its biological use is still being determined but it is hoped that it can help in the control of diabetes.

Where Is Vanadium Mined?

Vanadium is mostly mined in South Africa, China and Russia. The flowchart below is an example of the production process.


Conclusion

Vanadium is a chemical element found in over 65 minerals and fossil fuels. It is also produced from slag, flue dust and as a uranium by-product. Vanadium is mostly used as an alloy, a bonding agent and a mordant. It is used in the chemical, industrial, automotive, aircraft, ceramic and nuclear power industries. South Africa is the largest producer of vanadium.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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