Discovered in 1830, vanadium got its name from the Scandinavian goddess, Vanadis. It is a silvery-white metal that is heavier than aluminum but lighter than iron. It is malleable and ductile, and has unusual resistance to corrosion. In its elemental form, it has no toxic properties. At elevated temperatures, vanadium redily combines with atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen.

Vanadium is recovered from minerals such as vanadinite (Pb5(VO4)3Cl) and carnotite (K2(UO2)2(VO4).3H2). Recoverable amounts of vanadium can also be found in phosphate rock, from which it is extracted as V2O5. The metal is obtained by the reduction of the oxide with calcium.

The principal use of vanadium as a metal is as an alloying ingredient with iron to produce ferrovanadium, an especially corrosion-resistant material that is used for surfaces exposed to saline atmospheres and seawater. Vanadium steel (containing as little as 1% vanadium and chromium) is also strong and shock-resistant. It is one of the toughest alloys for armour plate, axles, piston rods, crankshafts, cutting tools and springs.

The most important compoundis vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), which is the chief catalyst used for the manufacture of sulfuric acid by the Contact Process.

BCIT Chemistry Resource Center