What is Vanadium
Vanadium is a medium-hard, ductile metal. Approximately 90% of vanadium produced is used in the production of steel alloys, where a relatively small amount of vanadium considerably increases the strength of steel.
Vanadium when alloyed with steel, aluminium or titanium can form stronger, lightweight engineering material. In addition, vanadium has good corrosion resistance against both alkaline and acidic compounds.
Vanadium is not naturally found in its metallic form but occurs in more than 60 minerals as a trace element. China has almost half the world vanadium resources (46%) followed by Russia (25%), and South Africa (18%). Australia's has approximately 11% of the world's economic vanadium resources. Most commonly vanadium is found in titaniferous magnetite deposits and in uraniferous sandstone and siltstone, as well as bauxites and phosphorites.
Whilst vanadium is recoverable from ore as a primary or by-product, it is more commonly extracted from slags and residues. Post extraction it is generally processed into vanadium pentoxide, vanadium trioxide, or as ferrovanadium (alloy of vanadium and iron), for commercial uses.
The applications of vanadium are:
Manufacture of steel and other alloys: vanadium compounds are added in the manufacture of steel and other non-ferrous alloys, such as titanium alloys to strengthen the end product. This accounts for approximately 90% of the global vanadium consumption. There is currently an increasing global demand for lighter weight and higher strength steels across the infrastructure, aviation and automotive industries;
Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFBs): vanadium is the core component in VRFBs, which use a vanadium electrolyte to produce long-life, stable energy storage systems. VRFBs are well suited as large scale energy storage systems for the storage of renewable energy. VFRBs can offer a nearly unlimited number of charging and discharging cycles, are non-combustible and modular making them well suited for scaling. More recent developments in VRFB technology and design are targeting smaller scale applications such as residential use and power for telecommunications towers; and
Chemical applications: vanadium compounds are used as catalysts in the production of industrial chemicals, such as sulphuric acid, and also in the cleaning of industrial waste.
Multicom’s Saint Elmo Project will be part of the future of Australia’s vanadium production, meeting this global demand.