Vanadium is a medium-hard, steel-blue metal. Although a lesser-known metal, it is quite valuable in the manufacturing industry due to its malleable, ductile and corrosion-resistant qualities.
Around 80 per cent of the vanadium produced is alloyed with iron to make a shock- and corrosion-resistant steel additive called ferrovanadium, according to Jefferson Lab. Ferrovanadium contains between 1 to 6 percent vanadium.
Vanadium-steel alloys are used to make extremely tough tools such as axles, armour plates, car gears, springs, cutting tools, piston rods and crankshafts. Vanadium alloys are also used to make nuclear reactors because of their low-neutron-absorbing properties, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. In fact, the first widespread industrial use for vanadium was in the steel framework of the Model T Ford, which allowed for a lighter weight frame that was also of greater tensile strength.
When mixed with aluminum and titanium, vanadium can create a very strong alloy that is used for special applications such as dental implants and jet engines.
Vanadium-titanium alloys have the best strength-to-weight ratio of any engineered material on earth.
By 2025, it’s estimated that 85 percent of all automobiles in the USA will incorporate vanadium alloy to reduce their weight, thereby increasing their fuel efficiency to conform to stringent fuel economy standards set by the US EPA.
Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB)
Key vanadium application in the US, VRFBs are the most efficient battery technology for utility-scale renewable energy storage for wind, solar and hydro. The main component is a 98% V2O5 electrolyte.
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A leading alternative to lithium-ion batteries, VRFBs have a number of significant advantages, including:
- Have a lifespan of 20+ years
- Offer immediate energy release
- Suitable for grid connection or off-grid settings – ideal for renewable energy
- Can discharge 100%, without any damage to the battery
- Are non-flammable
- Power and energy can be scaled independently
- Vanadium electrolyte can be reused and does not need to be disposed of
- The batteries can be cycled more than once per day
- They use only one element in electrolyte – V2O5
- VRFB energy storage guarantees uninterrupted power supply
Global Vanadium Market
According to Merchant Research & Consulting Ltd, the global vanadium market has come to a certain balance of supply and demand in recent years, and the decline in metal prices has led to renewed interest in researching the production of vanadium redox batteries.
The global vanadium ore market is expected to grow from $1.49 billion in 2020 to $1.6 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4%. The market is expected to reach $2.36 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 10.2%.