Niobium powder is known by its use as additive to steel and stainless steel for gas and oil pipelines, truck and car bodies, tool steels, architectural requirements, railroad tracks and ships hulls. However, these are not the only applications for niobium.
Niobium is a gray and light metal with a bright white appearance. It is a metal with great potentials such as a high melting point, and density of 8.58g/cm³. Niobium is fragile and can be formed even at low temperatures. It occurs in a natural ore with tantalum. Besides the high melting point, this metal also has excellent oxidation and chemical resistance.
Niobium is a multi-talented material for super alloys, electronics, and optical applications as of its combination of specific physical and chemical elements.
Two methods are used for niobium production – extraction and refining.
Niobium oxide is usually the starting element for the production of other compounds including niobium carbide, niobium chloride, and lithium niobate. Niobium is formed by the aluminothermic reduction of the Niobium oxide and acted in accordance with electron beam refining.
The niobium powders can be produced by the reduction of niobium oxide with magnesium or by the reduction of potassium niobium heptafluoride with sodium.
It is proven that the largest market for niobium powder is in high-strength low alloy steel production where this metal brings high-temperature strength and corrosion resistance to automobile components, gas pipelines, and structural steel. Like tantalum, niobium can also act as an electrolytic valve and is used in advanced airframe systems, and arc-welding rods for balanced grades of stainless steel.
One of the most interesting applications of niobium is in the field of superconductivity. Apparently, the superconductive magnets are formed of niobium and zirconium wire, which absorbs superconductivity in powerful magnetic fields. Besides niobium and zirconium, there are other alloys of niobium including tin and aluminum which are superconductive as well. Niobium in pure form is a superconductor, especially in extremely low temperatures. It is absolutely capable of being colored in an electrolytic process and used in lamp filaments or to make jewelry.
Even though niobium powder has various applications, it is mostly used in the production of steel. The second most important application is in nickel-based superalloys.
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