The Notable Element Niobium

Introduction to Niobium

The element niobium is a lustrous, crystalline, and ductile transition metal. Jet engines and both oil and gas pipelines contain niobium. 

10 Fun Facts About Niobium

  • Niobium is named after the Greek goddess of tears, Niobe.
  • Niobium is mostly mined in Brazil and Canada.
  • There is enough niobium in the Earth’s crust to last for around 500 years.
  • Most mined niobium is utilized into the steel industry.
  • Niobium is the 34th most abundant element on Earth.
  • Niobium Hydride is valued as a portable source of hydrogen.
  • Niobium is often mistaken as a rare earth metal.
  • A new electric car battery has been developed by a well-known electronic company that has a titanium-niobium oxide anode material for greater lithium storage.
  • Niobium does not occur naturally as a pure metal and is primarily derived from the complex oxide minerals of the pyrochlore group.
  • The names ‘columbium’ and ‘niobium’ were both used to identify the element until 1949, when the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially adopted ‘niobium’ as the name.

Niobium in the Periodic Table

Niobium has the atomic symbol Nb with an atomic number of 41, in the d-block of the periodic table, with zirconium to its left and molybdenum to its right. It is one of the 38 transition metals on the periodic table. Niobium has an electron configuration of [Kr] 4d⁴5s¹. Additionally, the element has an electronegativity of 1.6 on the Pauling scale.

Niobium’s Application in Today’s World

Niobium in the Everyday House

Because of its abundance, niobium can be found all around your own house. For starters, the very building you are in right now is made of some alloys like stainless steel which is made of niobium. You can also look around and find that many of the oil and gas pipelines in the building are made from niobium. Jet engines and rockets are also products from the element niobium. Additionally, niobium is heavily used in making jewelry for those with metal allergies.

Niobium in the Future

As certain niobium characteristics are further explored, niobium will become an increasingly significant technological solution in a wide range of enduses in the future. The majority of niobium will still be used in steel. Niobium will find new uses in nickel-based superalloys for the automotive sector, as well as in optimized alloys for land-based turbines, aviation engines, and other applications needing increased resistance to corrosion and abrasion. Niobium may also be further developed in other fields as a result of economic and technical advancements, including electronics (such as battery alloys), medicine (such as implant materials), photonics (such as thin films), and chemistry (such as catalytic applications).

Where is Niobium Found?

Niobium is present in the Earth’s crust only in about 20 parts per million. It is mostly found in the countries Brazil and Canada.

When and How was the Element Niobium Discovered?

The English chemist Charles Hatchett discovered niobium for the first time in 1801 in an ore sample from Connecticut. Hatchett named the element columbium after the nation where it originated—Columbia being a synonym for the United States. Niobium was named for the legendary goddess Niobe, who was Tantalus’s daughter, by German scientist Heinrich Rose in 1844 after he saw what he thought to be a new element present alongside tantalum. It was determined that columbium and niobium were the same element following much debate. In the end, around 1950, niobium became the official term when an international agreement was made, while columbium continued to be used in the American metallurgical sector.

Niobium in Nature

Niobium is a metal element that is a member of the transition metal element family. The total amount of niobium, a naturally occurring element, is 0.002 % in the crust of the Earth. Along with tantalum, another metal element, it is frequently found in the mineral columbite.

Niobium Chemistry – Compounds, Reactions, Isotopes, Oxidation States

Niobium Compounds and Reactions

  • Oxides: Nb2O5
  • Nitrides: NbN
  • Halides: NbOBr3, NbSBr3, NbSCl3
  • Salts: Nb(HC2O4)5, NbCl5

Isolation of Elemental Niobium

Liquid–liquid extraction is the most effective way of separating niobium, the metals is extracted and separated from acidic leach liquors by using organic extractants

Niobium Isotopes

Niobium has only one stable isotope with a mass number 93. All other niobium isotopes are radioactive. These radioactive isotopes have mass numbers of 92, 94, and 104, with their half-lives ranging from a few seconds.

Niobium Oxidation States

Niobium exhibits a large number of oxidation states such as +2, +3, +4, and +5.

Properties of Niobium Element

  • Atomic Symbol: Nb
  • Melting point: 2477°C 
  • Boiling point: 4927°C 
  • Density: 8.57 g/ml 
  • Atomic weight: 92.9
  • Atomic number: 41
  • Electronegativity: 1.6 
  • Molar heat capacity: 24.6 J/(mol*K) 
  • Classification: transition metal
  • Natural abundance in the Earth’s crust: 20 ppm
  • Electron shell configuration: [Kr] 4d⁴5s¹
  • Stable Isotopes: Niobium 93
  • Found naturally in the minerals: Columbite
  • Toxicity: There have been no cases of human poisoning from niobium or its byproducts, despite the fact that they may be harmful (niobium dust irritates the skin and eyes). 

Where Can I Buy Niobium Element?

The cost of pure Niobium is somewhere between $15 and $18 per 100 grams (3.5274 ounces). You can buy them from online sellers such as those on amazon.