Vanadium, A Singular Element


Vanadium is a new element which is affirmed by Swedish chemist SAF Sturm (Sef-strom) in 1830 in a kind of iron ore. Vanadium is multivalent element (from +5 to +2). Its various oxidation compounds have beautiful colors, so it was named after the beautiful Sweden goddess Vanadies — vanadium. Vanadium is a singular element, widely but scatteredly distributed, little settlement on Earth; the reserve is 1,000 times as silver, the abundance in earth crust 136ppm, which is ranking 23rd of all the elements, referred to as the rare metal. There is not much vanadium in ocean, only 2-35ppb. However, many marine organisms contain vanadium that the vanadium in sea squirts body is thousands of times higher than seawater, which actually played a role of concentrating the vanadium in seawater, called biological bonanza. The main vanadium minerals are green sulfur vanadium VS2 or V2S5, lead vanadium ore (galena or brown) Pb5 (VO4)3Cl, etc. China Panzhihua region is very rich in sefstromite.

The characteristics of metal vanadium

Vanadium is a silver-gray metal. Pure vanadium is malleable, hard and brittle when impure, high melting point, and refractory. Vanadium is usually in a passive state, and therefore low reactive at room temperature; massive vanadium has no reaction with air, water or caustic alkali, nor the non- -oxidizing acid but soluble in hydrofluoric acid and in strong oxidizing acids, such as nitric acid and aqua regia. At high temperature, vanadium powder reacts with most of the non-metallic elements and the molten caustic. Vanadium is called metal “vitamin”; steel containing a few percent of vanadium has delicate tissue particles, with great strength, flexibility and excellent resistance to abrasion and impact bending properties, widely used in structural steel, spring steel, tool steel , armor steel and rails, especially significant for the automotive and aircraft industry which is the foundation of the automotive industry. Preparation of pure metal vanadium is very difficult, because it is even easier to chemical combine with hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen than titanium. Vanadium metal powder is used as the additive for sheath material, fast neutron reactors, and specialty alloys superconducting materials.

The biological effect of vanadium

Vanadium has a close relationship with the human body, and it is an essential trace element found in the 1970s. Human body contains 15mg vanadium, which can keep the normal development and vitality. Animal tests show that a serious shortage of vanadium may cause skeletal deformities, growth retardation, and reproductive function decline. Recent studies have shown that vanadium has a special effect for the treatment of diabetes: patients’ blood glucose returns to normal after four days later when they drink a mixed solution of sodium metavanadate salt. Furthermore, vanadium can inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol to reduce blood cholesterol.

Vanadium (V) acid and phosphate salts are similar in terms of the function of various enzymes. Vanadate can automatically acetify with the hydroxyl (glucose), after that, it can be used as an enzyme substrate instead of ordinary phosphate matrix. As a potent inhibitor of such enzyme reaction, vanadate can block the enzyme reaction of Na +, K +-ATP (Na +, K + – adenosine triphosphate). Detailed mechanism is not clear.

Vanadium is difficult to be absorbed by higher animals, typically only 0.1 to 1.0% of food intake. The strange thing is that they are able to accumulate vanadium invertebrates; for instance, the blood vanadium concentration in ascidian worms is up to 1900ppm and a kind of sea squirt whose vanadium concentration of blood cells even reaches 14500ppm. They concentrate vanadium in seawater, as a source of vanadium.