Niobium is a rare high melting point metal with silver gray, soft texture and ductility. The density of niobium is 8.57g/cm³, the melting point is 2477°C, and the boiling point is 4744°C.
At room temperature, niobium does not react with air and will not be completely oxidized when it is red hot in oxygen. Niobium can directly combine with sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon at high temperatures. Niobium does not react with mineral acids or alkalis, nor is it soluble in aqua regia, but it is soluble in hydrofluoric acid.
Because niobium has good superconductivity, high melting point, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, etc., it is widely used in steel, superconducting materials, aerospace, atomic energy and other fields.
Uses and application areas
About 85% to 90% of the world's niobium is used in steel production in the form of ferroniobium. Only adding 0.03% to 0.05% of niobium to the steel can increase the yield strength of the steel by more than 30%. Niobium can also realize the dispersion and distribution of precipitates by inducing precipitation and controlling the cooling rate, and adjust the toughness level of steel in a wide range. Therefore, adding niobium to steel can not only increase the strength of the steel, but also improve the toughness, high temperature oxidation resistance and corrosion resistance of the steel, reduce the brittle transition temperature of the steel, and make the steel have good welding and forming properties.
Superconducting Material Industry
Some niobium compounds and alloys have high superconducting transition temperatures, so they are widely used in the manufacture of various industrial superconductors, such as superconducting generators, accelerator high-power magnets, superconducting magnetic energy storage, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging equipment, etc. . At present, the most important superconductor materials are niobium-titanium and niobium-tin, which are widely used in magnetic resonance imaging apparatus for medical diagnosis and nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus for spectral line (analysis).
The aerospace industry is the main application field of high-purity niobium, which is mainly used to produce rockets and spacecraft engines and heat-resistant parts. The heat-strength alloy of niobium and tantalum has good heat-strength performance, heat resistance and processing performance, and is widely used in the manufacture of aero-engine parts and gas turbine blades. Almost all jet fighter engines in the United States use niobium alloy for the hot parts.
Atomic Energy Industry
Niobium has good thermal conductivity, high melting point, good corrosion resistance, and low neutron capture cross section. It is a very suitable material for atomic energy reactors. The main uses of niobium in the nuclear energy industry include: nuclear fuel cladding materials, nuclear fuel alloys, and structural materials for heat exchangers in nuclear reactors.
Niobate ceramics can be used to make capacitors. Compound single crystals such as lithium niobate and potassium niobate are new crystals for optoelectronics and electronics. They have good piezoelectric, pyroelectric and optical properties, and are widely used in infrared, laser technology and In the electronics industry. In addition, niobium has a high melting point, strong ability to emit electrons, and has the ability to get gas, which can be used to make electron tubes and other electric vacuum devices.
Niobium has good resistance to physiological corrosion and biocompatibility, does not interact with various liquid substances in the human body, and hardly damages the body tissues of organisms. It can be adapted to any sterilization method, so it is often used Manufacture of bone plates, skull screws, dental implants, surgical tools, etc.
In the chemical industry, niobium is a high-quality acid and liquid metal corrosion resistant material, which can be used to make digesters, heaters, coolers, etc. In addition, niobic acid is also an important catalyst.
Niobium is also used in the foundry industry. Its main function is to form hard carbides (good for wear resistance) and change the morphology and size of graphite sheets, so it is often used in the manufacture of automobile cylinder heads, piston rings and brake pads. . In addition, niobium is sometimes used in commemorative coins along with gold and silver.
Niobium helps to increase the light transmission performance of the lens, so it is also used in the manufacture of lenses in the optical industry.
Niobium can also be applied to the lighting industry. For example, the alloy of niobium and 1% zirconium can be used to make precision brackets for high-efficiency and high-strength sodium vapor street lights, so that these small parts have high thermal strength, excellent formability and resistance to sodium vapor corrosion.
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