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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 [2].


Its Isotopes

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 [1]. 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 [3].

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 [1]. 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 [2].

The top 3 vanadium reserve holding countries are China, Russia, and South Africa while the top 3 producers include South Africa, China, and Russia [1].

Vanadium Symbol


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 [1].

Who discovered it: The Spanish-Mexican chemist Andrés Manuel del Rio is known for the discovery of vanadium [1].

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 [1]. 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 [1]. He separated the element from a specimen of cast iron produced from a mineral ore mined at Småland [1]. He also examined another vanadium mineral, obtained from the Mexican town of Zimapan [1].

In 1869, Sir Henry Roscoe produced pure vanadium at Manchester, England and revealed that the previous samples were actually vanadium nitride (VN) [1].

Vanadium Orbital Diagram

Vanadium Identification

Atomic number 23 [1]
CAS number 7440-62-2 [1]
Position in the periodic table Group Period Block
  5 [1] 4 [1] d [1]

Properties and Characteristics of Vanadium

General Properties

Relative atomic mass 50.942 [1]
Atomic mass 50.942 amu [1]
Molar mass About 50.9415 g/mol [5]

Physical Properties

Color Silvery [1, 4]
Melting point/freezing point 1910 °C, 3470 °F [1]
Boiling point 3407 °C, 6165 °F [1]
Density 6.0 g cm-3 [1]
State of matter at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas) Solid [1, 4]
– Brinell 628 MPa [6]
– Mohs 7 [6]
– Vickers 628 MPa [6]
Electrical conductivity 5X106 S/m [6]
Charge +5, +3 [9]
Thermal (heat) conductivity 31 W/(m K) [6]
Specific heat 489 J kg-1 K-1 [1]
Bulk modulus 158 GPa [1]
Shear modulus 46.7 GPa [1]
Young’s modulus 127.6 GPa [1]
Vapor pressure
– 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

Chemical Properties

Oxidation states 5, 4, 3, 2, 0 [1]
Isotopes Isotope Mass Abundance (%) Half-life Mode of decay
  50V 49.947 0.25 1.4 X 1017 y EC
  51V 50.944 99.75

Atomic Data of Vanadium (Element 23)

Valence electrons 5 [7]
Quantum numbers
– n 3 [8]
– ℓ 2 [8]
– m 0 [8]
– ms +1/2 [8]
Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Ar] 3d34s2 [1]
Atomic structure
– Number of electrons 23 [4]
– Number of neutrons 28 [4]
– Number of protons 23 [4]
Radius of Atom
– Atomic radius 2.07 Å [1]
– Covalent radius 1.44 Å [1]
Electronegativity (Pauling-scale) 1.63 [1]
Electron affinity 50.655 kJ mol-1 [1]
Ionization energy (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
  650.908 1410.423 2828.082 4506.734 6298.727 12362.67 14530.7 16730.6

Vanadium Electron Configuration (Bohr Model)

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 [1].
  • 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 [1].
  • An alloy containing vanadium, titanium, and aluminum is used in high-speed aircraft and jet engines [4].
  • 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].

Vanadium Element 23

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 [2].

Is It Toxic

Consuming or inhaling large amounts of vanadium can be toxic to humans [2]. Lung problems, including pneumonia or bronchitis, may occur in industrial workers exposed to large amounts of vanadium and its compounds [2]. In a study, it has been shown that inhalation of V2O5 causes DNA damage, increasing the risks of cancer in workers.

Vanadium Oxidation State Colors

Interesting Facts

  • Body armors and portable artillery pieces used during World War I were made with vanadium [2].
  • 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 [2].
  • It can withstand attacks by alkalis, salt water, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid [4].
  • The element readily oxidizes in air at about 660 °C to form vanadium pentoxide [4].
  • The oxidation states of vanadium have green, blue, yellow, and purple colors [2].
  • The graphic representation of vanadium indicates the 8th-century figurine of Freyja, the Scandinavian goddess from whom the element’s name is derived [1].

Vanadium Price

The cost of pure vanadium is around $2.20 per gram, and in bulk, its price is around $0.027 [4].



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