Vanadium is a transition metal that has a silver grey metal color in its natural solid state. It is a soft metal that oxidizes when heated. Vanadium has an atomic weight of 50.9415, a melting point of 3470 °F, and a boiling point of 6165 °F. Some common uses of vanadium include: as ferrovanadium which is a steel additive, as a metallic alloy in the use of surgical tools and rust resistant steels, as a catalyst in the manufacture of sulfuric acid.
Vanadium does not occur freely in nature, but is found in a variety of minerals. Different processes can be used to isolate vanadium from these minerals.
Large scale industrial isolation of vanadium for commercial uses does not have to be constructed solely for the purpose of vanadium isolation; most vanadium that is isolated is formed as a byproduct from other industrial chemical processes.
Vanadium ore, or residues gathered as a byproduct, are heated to approximately 1562 °F and reacted with sodium chloride or sodium carbonate; the result of this reaction is sodium vanadate. From this product, vanadium pentoxide is formed by dissolving and acidifying sodium vanadate in water and then heating the solution. Vanadium pentoxide is then reduced through a reaction with calcium to yield pure vanadium.
Another isolation process that can be used to form pure vanadium on a very small scale involves reducing vanadium pentachloride by reacting it with hydrogen or magnesium.
Pure vanadium is not normally produced on a very large scale as ferrovanadium; the main form of ferrovanadium that is used can be produced by reacting vanadium pentoxide with crude iron.
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