When it comes to chemistry, all we can imagine is beakers and funny-smelling liquids and vapor rising from them. Most of us dread going to chemistry class. But just think what all you'll be missing out on just because you're skeptical about the whole 'chemical equations and balancing them' deal. Like the element vanadium, for instance. Did you know that it was discovered, not once, but twice? See, these are the things I'm talking about! So, enjoy this article, which will give you some of the most basic and important vanadium facts and uses.
Discovery of Vanadium
In 1801, Andrés Manuel del Rio, a professor of mineralogy at the School of Mines in Mexico City, in the course of his studies, thought that he had discovered a new element. This element had the ability to display many different colors when formed into compounds. Hence, he decided to name it panchromium (all colors). However, something prompted him to change his mind and he decided to name it erythronium (erythro = red). When he sent this sample to some colleagues, they wrote back to him saying that it was not a new element, it was just a form of chromium.
Disappointed, del Rio did not pursue the matter. Then in 1830, Nils Sefstrom from Sweden found this 'new element' again! He discovered that this was exactly like the element that del Rio had discovered 30 years ago. He named it vanadium, after the Scandinavian Goddess of love/beauty- Vanadis. However, this too was not in the pure form. It was only in 1887 that the chemist from England, Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe, was able to extract its pure form from its oxide.
Facts about Vanadium
So, now what do you think? Would you like to know more about vanadium and some interesting tidbits about it? I thought so! Just read ahead.
- Vanadium is a transition element.
- The symbol of vanadium is 'V'.
- It lies in the middle of the periodic table, in group 5.
- Its atomic number is 23.
- Its atomic weight is 50.9415.
- The electron configuration of vanadium is as follows: [Ar] 4s23d3.
- It has a melting point of around 1890 ºC.
- Its boiling point is somewhere around 3380 ºC.
- The shell structure of the vanadium atom is 2, 8, 11, 2.
- The number of electrons and protons in the vanadium atom is 23 while the number of neutrons is 28.
- The crystal structure of a vanadium atom is cubic.
- Vanadium has a bright lustrous white color.
- Its compounds form different colors.
- It is highly ductile but not really malleable.
- Since it is not very reactive, vanadium does not react with oxygen or acids. However, it does react with hot sulfuric and nitric acid.
- Its specific heat capacity is 0.49 J g-1K-1.
- One of the peculiar characteristics of this element is that at times, it acts as a metal and sometimes as a non metal.
- Vanadium is obtained from the minerals vanadinite, carnotite, roscoelite, and patronite.
- For commercially producing vanadium, it is extracted from slag (mixture of materials which get separated from iron on purifying and float on top) and fly ash (powdered material for purifying iron)
Now that you've read some interesting facts, let's move on to its uses.
- Vanadium is used to make strong steel alloys to be used in space vehicles, aircraft carriers, etc.
- Vanadium alloys are highly rust-resistant. This makes them an excellent choice for tools and heavy equipment.
- Vanadium is also used, to some extent, in ceramics.
- Vanadium pentoxide can be used as a catalyst in the manufacture of dyes and printing fabrics.
- Superconducting magnets can be made from vanadium gallium tape.
Do you still think that chemistry can be boring even after reading about so many wonderful vanadium facts and uses? I think not! So go an ahead and lose yourself in the wonderful world of chemistry!