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It's Elemental

The Element Vanadium

[Click for Isotope Data]


23 V Vanadium 50.9415

Atomic Number: 23

Atomic Weight: 50.9415

Melting Point: 2183 K (1910°C or 3470°F)

Boiling Point: 3680 K (3407°C or 6165°F)

Density: 6.0 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 4

Group Number: 5

Group Name: none

What's in a name? Named for the Scandinavian goddess Vanadis.

Say what? Vanadium is pronounced as veh-NAY-dee-em.

History and Uses:

Vanadium was discovered by Andrés Manuel del Rio, a Spanish chemist, in 1801. Rio sent samples of vanadium ore and a letter describing his methods to the Institute de France in Paris, France, for analysis and confirmation. Unfortunately for Rio, his letter was lost in a shipwreck and the Institute only received his samples, which contained a brief note describing how much this new element, which Rio had named erythronium, resembled chromium. Rio withdrew his claim when he received a letter from Paris disputing his discovery. Vanadium was rediscovered by Nils Gabriel Sefstrôm, a Swedish chemist, in 1830 while analyzing samples of iron from a mine in Sweden. Vanadium was isolated by Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe, an English chemist, in 1867 by combining vanadium trichloride (VCl3) with hydrogen gas (H2). Today, vanadium is primarily obtained from the minerals vanadinite (Pb5(VO)3Cl) and carnotite (K2(UO2)2VO4·1-3H2O) by heating crushed ore in the presence of carbon and chlorine to produce vanadium trichloride. The vanadium trichloride is then heated with magnesium in an argon atmosphere.

Vanadium is corrosion resistant and is sometimes used to make special tubes and pipes for the chemical industry. Vanadium also does not easily absorb neutrons and has some applications in the nuclear power industry. A thin layer of vanadium is used to bond titanium to steel.

Nearly 80% of the vanadium produced is used to make ferrovanadium or as an additive to steel. Ferrovanadium is a strong, shock resistant and corrosion resistant alloy of iron containing between 1% and 6% vanadium. Ferrovanadium and vanadium-steel alloys are used to make such things as axles, crankshafts and gears for cars, parts of jet engines, springs and cutting tools.

Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) is perhaps vanadium's most useful compound. It is used as a mordant, a material which permanently fixes dyes to fabrics. Vanadium pentoxide is also used as a catalyst in certain chemical reactions and in the manufacture of ceramics. Vanadium pentoxide can also be mixed with gallium to form superconductive magnets.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 1.20×102 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 2.5×10-3 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 1 (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 6.746 eV

Oxidation States: +5, +4, +3, +2

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d3


Citation and linking information

For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.