Rare Metal Investments – Niobium

buying industrial metals as an investment : niobium

Niobium is in the E Basket.

Few elements had the identity crisis Niobium experienced. Niobium has stirred up controversy since it was originally discovered by Charles Hatchett in 1801, when he named it Columbium.

Later, English scientist William Hyde Wollaston mistakenly determined Columbium was identical to Tantalum.
Heinrich Rose argued the Columbium mineral sample contained 2 different elements. Since Tantalum was named after the Greek God Tantalus, he named the 2 new elements after Tantalus’s daughter Niobe (Niobium) and son Pelos (Pelopium).
After 100 years of controversy, the name officially changed to Niobium. Some American Metallurgists still refer to it as Columbium.
Niobium’s main use is in structural steel and super alloys, and because of its temperature stability, it’s useful in liquid rocket thruster nozzles. It was actually used on the Apollo Lunar Modules.

A small portion finds use in electronics and super conductors, and also in the arc-tube seals of high pressure sodium vapor lamps.
Niobium takes on a bluish tinge when exposed to air at room temperature for long periods. Because its color can be changed via anodization, it is used for numismatic coins and jewelry.

It’s perfect for super conducting magnets like those used in the nuclear industry, and it’s inert, so safe to use in pacemakers and other medical applications.

Regardless of what you call it, Niobium’s continued demand in welding, nuclear, optics, numismatics, jewelry, super alloys and medical industries gives it strong future growth opportunities and makes a great addition to any portfolio.

Specifications

Element Symbol: Nb
Atomic mass: 92.9 amu
Atomic radius: 146 pm
Density: 8.57 g/cm³
Colour: Metallic grey
Melting point: 2,477 °C
Boiling point: 4,744 °C
Heat of evaporation: 689.9 kJ/mol
Annual production worldwide approx.: 63,000 t.

Application

  • Steel Production
  • Super Alloys
  • Superconducting Magnets
  • Electro-Ceramics
  • Hypoallergenic Applications (medicine, jewelry)
  • Numismatics