Vanadium, element number 23 (V), is a silvery-grey ductile, transition metal primarily used to make steel alloys. A small percentage of Vanadium added to steel or aluminium, makes products stronger, lighter and more efficient.
Vanadium is classed as a Critical Mineral by the Australian Government. Vanadium is a new energy mineral and a ‘strategic metal’ when building a new energy economy. New economy minerals are strongly supported by Federal and Queensland Governments. As a Critical Mineral, Vanadium is listed for priority development and investment.
Vanadium is not found on its own in the Earth’s crust, instead it may be found in magnetite (iron oxide), aluminium ore, sandstone, coal, or as in QEM’s case, in oil shale. Once Vanadium is extracted and dissolved in water, it transitions into several bright shades of the rainbow, and has hence been referred to as “the most beautiful metal of all”. In fact, Vanadium is named after Vanadis, the goddess of beauty in Scandinavian mythology.
90% of vanadium consumption today occurs in the steel industry, with the remaining 10% of vanadium supply being used in the production of titanium alloys, super alloys, chemical applications and energy storage applications, where quality requirements are typically more rigorous. The properties of vanadium make it highly effective in strengthening metals and reducing corrosion;
- Less than 1% of vanadium, and as little chromium, makes steel shock resistant and vibration resistant
- Vanadium-titanium alloys have the best strength-to-weight ratio of any engineered material on earth
- Vanadium, being corrosion resistant, is used to make special tubes and pipes for the chemical industry
The construction sector is the largest consumer of steel products, and with approximately 90% of vanadium being used in steel. Vanadium micro-alloyed high strength rebar is a safe, reliable and cost effective solution for reinforced concrete construction, particularly in the world’s earthquake prone regions.
The addition of vanadium to rail steels can increase the tensile strength from about 700 N/mm2 to over 1,200 N/mm2, which thereby increases the wear and fatigue resistance of the rails.
Welded heavy chains, used for mooring ships and offshore platforms exploit the grain refining capability of vanadium, which provides increased strength and wear resistance.
Vanadium contributes to the strength and economic efficiency demanded in materials for automobiles and trucks. High strength automotive suspension and valve springs benefit from vanadium additions as a result of improved sag resistance and the potential to reduce the size and weight.
Smart glass windows manufactured with vanadium are capable of saving energy by preventing thermal radiation from escaping, and as a result, preventing heat loss during the winter, and by avoiding infrared radiation from the sun from entering the building during the summer.