The Chemical Element – Vanadium

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The Legend of Vanadium

Long time ago, there lived a beautiful goddess in the far north whose name was Vanadis. One day, a faraway guest went to knock the door while the goddess was sitting leisurely in the round-backed armchair. She thought that if the guest knocked once again, she would open the door. However, the knock was stopped and the guest went away. The goddess wanted to know who this man was and why he was so lack of confidence. So when she opened the window and looked out, she saw a man named Waller who was walking out of her yard. A few days later, the goddess heard the knock again which was sustained and steady until she opened the door. It was a young and handsome man whose name was Seve Storm. The goddess fell in love with him quickly and they had a son named Vanadium. Although this story is vivid, it is not very accurate. The man who knocked the first time was a Mexico chemist named Rio and the man who knocked at the second time was the Germany chemist named Waller. Although they found the new element, they could not prove their discovery. They even mistakenly believed that this element was chrome. But Steve Storm acquired the new element from a kind of iron ore with his persistent effort and named it as Vanadium with the goddess name of Vanadis.

The Source of Vanadium

The varieties of mineral are carnotite, brown lead ore and patronite, etc. It is very difficult to make very pure vanadium. In the commonly high temperature, vanadium is lively to oxygen and nitrogen, and easy to react with them. Vanadium is made into alloy in the industry. Pure vanadium can be obtained by VI5 from the reaction of vanadium pentoxide with calcium iodide via thermal decomposition.

The property of vanadium is similar to that of tantalum and niobium. After vanadium was discovered, the English chemist Roscoe studied its properties and confirmed that it is similar to that of tantalum and niobium which establish a foundation for the three elements to build a family in the periodic table.

The Description of Vanadium

Vanadium is one of the high melting point metals and appears to be light grey. Its density is 5.96 g/cm3. The melting point is 1890 ± 10°C and the boiling point is 3380°C. Its valence is +2, +3, +4 and +5. Among the four valences, the valence state of 5 is most stable and valence state of 4 follows. Its ionization energy is 6.74 electron volts. It has malleability, hard texture and no magnetism. It has the power of resistance to hydrochloric and sulfuric acid and its corrosion-resistant is much better than most of the stainless steel. Besides, it cannot be oxidized in air and can be soluble in hydrofluoric acid, nitric acid and aqua regia.

The Usage of Vanadium

If steel and vanadium are both powerful, then the combination of steel and vanadium will make it more powerful. Just adding a few percent of Vanadium, it will be able to increase the elasticity and strength of steel. Its abrasion resistance and spalling resistance are excellent. Also it can both resist to high temperature and special cold. As Vanadium has so many usages, you can see traces of vanadium in the departments of automotive, aviation, railway, electronics technique, national defense industry and so on. In addition, vanadium oxide has become one of the best catalysts in chemical industry which is known as the “chemical bread”. It seems that the son of Vanadis is favored a lot on earth.

Vanadium is mainly used to manufacture high-speed cutting steel and other steel and catalyst. It can be made into Vanadium steel when adding the Vanadium into the steel. The structure of Vanadium steel is tighter than normal steel. Its toughness, elasticity and mechanical strength are higher. The armour piercer made by Vanadium steel can shoot 40 cm thick steel plate. However, in the iron and steel industry, the Vanadium steel is made by directly using the iron ore containing Vanadium instead of adding the pure Vanadium into the iron and steel.