What is Vanadium
Vanadium (pronunciation: veh-NAY-dee-em) is a medium-hard, silvery element belonging to the family of transition metals represented by the chemical symbol V [1, 2]. Because of its malleability, ductility, and corrosion-resistant properties, vanadium is increasingly used in the manufacturing industry .
It has two naturally occurring isotopes, out of which 51V is stable while 50V is radioactive with a half-life period of about 1.4 X 1017 years . There are 24 artificial radioisotopes with mass numbers ranging from 40 to 65, 49V and 48V being the two most stable of them with half-life periods of 330 days and 15.9735 days respectively .
Where is Vanadium Found
Although it is rarely found free in nature, vanadium can be extracted from 65 different mineral ores, including patronite, carnotite, and vanadinite . It is also obtained as organic complexes from some crude oils, iron ores, and phosphate rocks [1, 2]. Vanadium is generally extracted by heating crushed mineral ores along with chlorine and carbon, producing vanadium (III) chloride, which is then reduced with magnesium in a pressure vessel .
The top 3 vanadium reserve holding countries are China, Russia, and South Africa while the top 3 producers include South Africa, China, and Russia .
Origin of its Name: It is named after ‘Vanadis’, the other name for the Norse goddess Freyja associated with beauty, love, fertility, gold, war, and death .
Who discovered it: The Spanish-Mexican chemist Andrés Manuel del Rio is known for the discovery of vanadium .
When and How was it Discovered
In 1801, the element was first identified in a sample of Pb5(VO4)3Cl or vanadite, by Professor Manuel Del Rio in Mexico City . He sent the specimen to Paris where the French chemist Victor Collet-Descotils examined it and announced that it was actually chromium [1, 4].
In 1831, vanadium was found by the Swedish chemist Gabriel Selfström at the Swedish capital Stockholm . He separated the element from a specimen of cast iron produced from a mineral ore mined at Småland . He also examined another vanadium mineral, obtained from the Mexican town of Zimapan .
In 1869, Sir Henry Roscoe produced pure vanadium at Manchester, England and revealed that the previous samples were actually vanadium nitride (VN) .
|Atomic number||23 |
|CAS number||7440-62-2 |
|Position in the periodic table||Group||Period||Block|
|5 ||4 ||d |
Properties and Characteristics of Vanadium
|Relative atomic mass||50.942 |
|Atomic mass||50.942 amu |
|Molar mass||About 50.9415 g/mol |
|Color||Silvery [1, 4]|
|Melting point/freezing point||1910 °C, 3470 °F |
|Boiling point||3407 °C, 6165 °F |
|Density||6.0 g cm-3 |
|State of matter at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas)||Solid [1, 4]|
|– Brinell||628 MPa |
|– Mohs||7 |
|– Vickers||628 MPa |
|Electrical conductivity||5X106 S/m |
|Charge||+5, +3 |
|Thermal (heat) conductivity||31 W/(m K) |
|Specific heat||489 J kg-1 K-1 |
|Bulk modulus||158 GPa |
|Shear modulus||46.7 GPa |
|Young’s modulus||127.6 GPa |
|– Temperature (K)||400||600||800||1000||1200||1400||1600||1800||2000||2200||2400|
|– Pressure (Pa)||–||–||–||–||2.79X 10-10||4.35X 10-7||1.07X 10-4||7.69X 10-3||0.233||3.68||32.6|
|Oxidation states||5, 4, 3, 2, 0 |
|Isotopes||Isotope||Mass||Abundance (%)||Half-life||Mode of decay|
|50V||49.947||0.25||1.4 X 1017 y||EC|
Atomic Data of Vanadium (Element 23)
|Valence electrons||5 |
|– n||3 |
|– ℓ||2 |
|– mℓ||0 |
|– ms||+1/2 |
|Electron configuration (noble gas configuration)||[Ar] 3d34s2 |
|– Number of electrons||23 |
|– Number of neutrons||28 |
|– Number of protons||23 |
|Radius of Atom|
|– Atomic radius||2.07 Å |
|– Covalent radius||1.44 Å |
|Electronegativity (Pauling-scale)||1.63 |
|Electron affinity||50.655 kJ mol-1 |
|Ionization energy (kJ mol-1)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||6th||7th||8th|
What is It Used for
- About 80 percent of the vanadium manufactured is used for making ferrovanadium, a steel additive [1, 10]. Since vanadium-steel alloys are immensely hard and strong, they are used for producing axles, tools, armor plate, crankshafts, and piston rods .
- Adding small amounts of vanadium and chromium (chrome-vanadium), makes steel heat, vibration, and shock resistant [1, 4].
- Because of vanadium’s low parasitic neutron-absorption cross-section, its alloys are used for making the inner structure of nuclear reactors .
- An alloy containing vanadium, titanium, and aluminum is used in high-speed aircraft and jet engines .
- Vanadium-gallium (V3Ga) superconducting alloys are used for the insert coils of electromagnets while the V3Ga tapes are used in magnets with a field strength of 17.5 teslas [1, 4].
- Vanadium (V) oxide (also called vanadium pentoxide) is used as ceramics and glass coloring pigment, as well as a catalyst for making sulfuric acid [1, 4].
Biological Role in Humans
Aside from some other species, humans need vanadium in trace amounts (0.01 mg) for healthy bone growth and other biological needs [1, 2]. It is obtained from food sources including parsley, mushroom, black pepper, shellfish, dill weed, grains, beer, and wine .
Is It Toxic
Consuming or inhaling large amounts of vanadium can be toxic to humans . Lung problems, including pneumonia or bronchitis, may occur in industrial workers exposed to large amounts of vanadium and its compounds . In a study, it has been shown that inhalation of V2O5 causes DNA damage, increasing the risks of cancer in workers.
- Body armors and portable artillery pieces used during World War I were made with vanadium .
- In a research study, vanadium supplements given to 8 people who have type-2 diabetes for a month helped reduce blood sugar without any serious side effects .
- It can withstand attacks by alkalis, salt water, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid .
- The element readily oxidizes in air at about 660 °C to form vanadium pentoxide .
- The oxidation states of vanadium have green, blue, yellow, and purple colors .
- The graphic representation of vanadium indicates the 8th-century figurine of Freyja, the Scandinavian goddess from whom the element’s name is derived .
The cost of pure vanadium is around $2.20 per gram, and in bulk, its price is around $0.027 .