10 Things You Need To Know About The Chemical Element Vanadium

Vanadium is represented on the periodic table by the V symbol and it has an atomic number of 23. This element is silvery-gray, soft and ductile. How much do you know about vanadium? Well, we’re about to find out. Below, you’ll find 10 interesting facts about this element that you probably do not yet know.

We’re not keeping track, but you are more than welcome to do so yourself.

1. Andres Manuel del Rio is credited with the discovery of vanadium in 1801. A mineralogist of Spanish descent living in Mexico, Del Rio was able to extract this element from vanadinite. However, his discovery was challenged in 1805 by Hippolyte Victor Collet-Descotils who was backed by Alexander von Humboldt. Both declared, albeit incorrectly, that the element Del Rio found was simply impure chromium. Del Rio made the decision to accept this and his claim was retracted.

2. Nils Gabriel Sefstrom, a Swedish chemist, rediscovered vanadium in 1831 when he was working on iron ores. Friedrich Wohler ended up confirming Del Rio’s work later that year; however, it was Sefstrom’s name for the element that stuck.

3. Vanadium comes from Vanadis, which is one of many names of Norse Vanr goddess Feyja. The goddess was believed to bring fertility and beauty. The name was chosen by Sefstrom due to the wide variety of colorful chemical compounds produced by it.

4. Vanadium metal wasn’t isolated until 1867 by Henry Enfield Roscoe.

5. Vanadium is not only soft and ductile, but it also has good corrosion resistance, remaining stable against hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, as well as alkalis. It oxidizes at 660 degrees Celsius, but at regular room temperature it will form an oxide layer.

6. Vanadium does not occur freely in nature; however, it does exist in more than 60 minerals. The most significant examples are vanadinite, carnotite and patronite. The majority of vanadium comes from magnetite.

7. China, Russia and South Africa are the leading producers of vanadium. Combined, these countries produced over 98% of the world’s vanadium.

8. The majority of the vanadium that is produced, a whopping 85%, is used for steel additives. This strengthens steel considerably and makes steel great for axles, crankshafts, bike frames, gears and a variety of other components. However, vanadium is also used in cladding, as a catalyst, an oxidizer, for color induction, and to prevent corrosion.

9. Vanadium does play a biological role, albeit a limited one. The element is actually not that important on land, but ocean environments are a different story. Vanadium dependent organisms, such as marine algae, arise due to the organobromine compounds found within the sea. Other sea life, such as sea squirts (Ascidiacea), has vanadium running through their blood.

In fact, the blood of these creatures has a vanadium concentration that is 100 times richer than that of the seawater that surrounds them.

10. Every vanadium compound is considered toxic; however, some are more toxic than others. These compounds have the ability to cause serious, lasting health problems and possibly even death.

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