Vanadium (V) is a silvery white soft metal with corrosion-resistance properties. It is also stable against alkalis, acids, and salt water. It is a transition metal and hence portrays properties like forming coloured ions and compounds which are stable. It is used to make steel stronger and lighter.
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Naturally occurring vanadium is composed of two isotopes - 50V (0.24%), which is mildly radioactive, and a stable isotope, 51V (99.76%). However, naturally occurring elemental vanadium is rare; it is found in a combined form in over 60 minerals like patronite, carnotite, roscoelite, and also in petroleum in the form of organic complexes.
China is the world’s top producer of Vanadium, contributing to almost 59% of global production. China is followed by Russia with approximately 17% of the global output and then comes South Africa with around 7% of global production. It is also extracted as a byproduct in some oil and gas operations in Venezuela and Canada.
An alloy made from Vanadium and iron is known as FerroVanadium. The vanadium content in this alloy lies between 35%-85%. FerroVanadium alloy has an inherited property of being a universal hardener, strengthener, and anti-corrosive additive. Hence, it is used in steel to impart strength and provide improved shock resistance.
Vanadium, when added in small quantities of 0.1% and 5.0%, produces two drastic changes in steel. First, it forms carbides as its reaction with carbon present in steel and second, it refines the grain of the steel matrix, thereby enhancing its strength.
1. Vanadium is used in the production of Vanadium-steel alloys. Almost 80% of Vanadium produced is used as a steel additive.
2. Vanadium Pentoxide (V2O5) is perhaps the most useful vanadium compound and has many industrial applications. Vanadium pentoxide nanofibers-based photocathodes are used in Photorechargeable Lithium-ion batteries (Photo-LIBs). These batteries are used in the storage of renewable solar energy. These photocathodes aid in photocharge separation and the conduction process needed to recharge the battery.
3. The automobile industry is working on using vanadium as a cathode in EV batteries.
4. Vanadium is used in developing Smart Windows. These windows can block heat during the summer and retain heat inside a building during cooler weather thanks to vanadium’s unique properties.
5. Vanadium Pentoxide is extensively used in producing dyes, ceramics and printing fabrics.
6. Vanadium Pentoxide mixed with Gallium is also used to produce superconductive magnets.
ASX Vanadium companies
Frequently Asked Questions
Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries offer many advantages over conventional batteries. For example: (VRFBs) have an average lifespan of more than 20 years, and they can get 100% discharged without getting damaged. They have the added advantage of guaranteeing an uninterrupted power supply.
They are suitable for grid connection or off-grid settings, which is ideal for renewable energy storage. Vanadium Pentoxide is the only element used as an electrolyte in the battery that can be reused and does not require disposal, thus making it green.
ESO, a consortium working together to lower Oxford’s carbon emissions and clean up its air, has developed the world's largest lithium-vanadium Hybrid Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). This lithium-vanadium hybrid BESS uses the best aspects of both a lithium-ion battery and a Vanadium flow battery. This system combines a heavy-cycling, non-degrading vanadium flow battery with the high-power storage capacity of the lithium-ion battery.
The total capacity of this hybrid system is 55 MWh, out of which the Lithium-ion battery supplies 50 MWh, and the Vanadium flow battery provides the remaining 5 MWh.
This system can reduce annual Carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 tonnes in the first year of its operation, equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road.
Vanadium is present in trace amounts in the human body (estimated to be less than 1 milligram). Most studies on vanadium have been on animals. Some scientists think that small amounts of vanadium are required for normal bone growth. However, high doses (more than 1.8 mg per day) can cause liver or kidney damage. As per the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), vanadium is possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Ferrovanadium (vanadium content of 35%-80%) is produced using an electric-arc furnace, where scrap iron is melted and mixed with aluminum, vanadium pentoxide and calcium oxide flux.
It causes the aluminium metal to convert into alumina, thus forming a slag, while vanadium pentoxide gets reduced to vanadium metal, which gets dissolved into molten iron. This reaction is exothermic; hence, heat is only required to achieve a kindling temperature of 950°C.