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Vanadium (V)

QUICK REFERENCE

  • Symbol: V
  • Atomic Number: 23
  • Atomic Weight: 50.9415
  • Element Classification: Transition Metal
  • Discovered By: Andrés Manuel del Río
  • Discovery Date: 1801
  • Name Origin: Named after Vanadis, another name for Freyja, the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, because of the beautiful multicolored compounds it forms
  • Density(g/cc): 6.11
  • Melting Point: 1910°C
  • Boiling Point: 3407°C
  • Appearance: Silvery-grey metal
  • Atomic Radius(pm): 134

Discovery

Vanadium was first discovered by the Spanish-Mexican mineralogist Andrés Manuel del Río in 1801 in the mineral vanadinite. Del Río initially named it “erythronium” due to the red color of its salts after heating. However, his discovery was questioned, and he withdrew his claim. Later, in 1831, Nils Gabriel Sefström, a Swedish chemist, rediscovered the element in a different ore and named it vanadium after the Scandinavian goddess Vanadis. The element’s industrial value was recognized when Henry Enfield Roscoe purified it in 1867, and its properties were further explored.

Relation to Other Elements

Vanadium is a transition metal located in group 5 of the periodic table, between titanium and chromium. It shares common features with other transition metals, such as high melting points, the ability to form stable compounds, and versatile oxidation states, most commonly +2, +3, +4, and +5. Vanadium’s ability to form stable and diverse oxidation states contributes to its role in biological systems and its wide range of industrial applications, especially in the formation of alloys.

Natural Occurrence

Vanadium is not found free in nature but occurs in about 65 different minerals, including vanadinite (Pb₅(VO₄)₃Cl), carnotite (K₂(UO₂)₂(VO₄)₂·3H₂O), and patronite (VS₄). It is also present in fossil fuel deposits, such as crude oil, coal, and tar sands. The Earth’s crust contains vanadium at concentrations of about 0.015%, making it the 22nd most abundant element in the crust.

Uses

Vanadium has several key applications:

  • Steel Production: The primary use of vanadium is as an alloying agent for steel. Adding small amounts of vanadium increases steel’s strength, hardness, and resistance to shock and corrosion. High-speed tool steels, for example, contain vanadium, making them ideal for cutting and drilling equipment.
  • Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB): Vanadium is used in energy storage systems, such as VRFB, for grid energy storage to stabilize renewable energy sources like wind and solar. These batteries benefit from vanadium’s ability to exist in solution in four different oxidation states, allowing for efficient energy storage and release.
  • Catalysts: Vanadium(V) oxide (V₂O₅) is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of sulfuric acid and in some processes for the production of maleic anhydride and other chemicals.
  • Colorants: Vanadium compounds are used in ceramics and as dyes and color fixers due to the bright colors and stability of vanadium’s various oxidation states.

The discovery of vanadium expanded the range of materials and processes in the industrial and energy sectors, showcasing the importance of transition metals in modern technology and manufacturing. Its diverse applications, from strengthening steel to storing energy, highlight vanadium’s versatile role in advancing industrial capabilities and renewable energy technologies.

 

Titanium (Ti)

Chromium (Cr)