Rare Metal Investments – Chromium

rare metal investments - Bismuth

Chromium is in the C Basket.

Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin, a Frenchman born in Normandy in 1763 was a pharmacist and chemist. Without him American cars would not have been what they were in the middle of the 20th century – shiny-chrome road cruisers. In 1797 Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin obtained chromium (III) oxide, Cr²O³ from Crocoite and hydrochloric acid, a year later he obtained impure elementary chromium by reducing chromium (III) oxide using charcoal. The rich colors of the contained salts must have taken his breath away: Why else would the name of chromium be derived from the Greek word “chroma“ meaning “color“?

Initially the element was mainly used as a pigment and in chrome tannery, where it has remained the most important tanning method: Without chromium, the present form of leather production would not have been possible. However, its use in chromium plating is better known: As hard chromium plating of up to one millimeter thickness on steel, cast iron and copper, as thin chromium plating on bumpers, aluminium alloy wheels and fittings.

Probably every mechanic knows it together with vanadium: Chrome-vanadium steel is considered particularly solid and durable. However, by far the largest amount of the world‘s chromium production is used as an important component in the production of stainless steel, where it makes up around 20 percent of the content. One can be happy from the range of application and from the annual demand perspective that the global availability of chromium is not considered as a problem for several decades to come. Even today, the reserves of chromite are about 350 million tons but the resources are assessed to be more than 12 billion tons. The main suppliers of this shiny and highly corrosion resistant element are Kazakhstan and South Africa, which have almost 90 percent of the raw material according to a USGS survey. Thus, chromium still has a bright future even 200 years after its discovery, even if the American road cruisers have become a thing of the past in the meantime.

Specifications

Element Symbol: Cr
Atomic mass: 51.9961 amu
Atomic radius: 166 pm
Density: 7.140 g/cm³
Color: Metallic Silver
Melting point: 1,907 °C
Boiling point: 2,672 °C
Heat of evaporation: 344.3 kJ/mol
Annual production worldwide approx.: 15 million t.

Application

  • In gas turbine blades
  • Decorative surface coatings
  • Refractory material
  • Leather production
  • Dyes and pigments
  • Instrument components in the chemical, medical and food industry
  • Curable surface coating for pistons & cylinders