Niobium a popular material
The grey shiny niobium is not unlike tantalum, which also has a very high melting temperature. A striking difference to tantalum is its much lower density. The pure metal is easy to process due to its low hardness. However, it becomes much harder and more brittle due to minor carbon impurities. Niobium is a relatively base element. When exposed to air, a protective oxide layer forms around the metal, which protects it from further corrosion and provides additional resistance. These wafer-thin oxide layers on the metal surface cause the coloured iridescence that occurs when heating a compact piece with a burner. Niobium powder is pyrophoric and can therefore ignite by itself. Glowing niobium powder reacts with oxygen to form niobium(V)-oxide.
The compact metal resists most acids at room temperature. After heating, however, almost all acids are able to decompose the metal. At higher temperatures it also reacts with most non-metals such as nitrogen or carbon, hydrogen and also with chlorine.
Niobium - a fantastic and underrated all-rounder
Hardly anyone will pass niobium in their lifetime, although it is relatively unknown as a metal. Nevertheless it combines several properties that make it a sought-after all-rounder. The melting point of niobium is very high, just under 2,500°C. Despite its extraordinary stability and strength, the metal can be processed very well, which is why it is often used in the construction of pipelines, high-voltage pylons or high bridge pillars. The successes achieved in space travel would also not have been possible without niobium. The space shuttle had used niobium pipes, bolts and nuts in its most sensitive areas to withstand the extreme temperatures on entering the Earth's atmosphere.
The only catch: There are as many as 41 metals that are more abundant in the earth's crust than niobium. Nevertheless, there is no alternative in some applications.
Niobium alloys have almost unlimited possibilities
Materials with niobium alloys are generally characterised by increased mechanical strength. Steel becomes considerably stronger and tougher with the smallest additions of niobium. Anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle has most likely done so on rims made of a niobium-aluminium alloy, which ensures lightness and stability. Niobium alloys are also indispensable in high-tech applications such as particle accelerators as superconductors at extremely low temperatures or lasers.
Niobium from E.WAGENER you can get pure or as a component
E.Wagener offers you individual design options when ordering your material. From us you can get niobium in 90, 95 or even > 99 % purity. But not only the delivery as powder or blank is possible. We process niobium into sheets, rods, wires, blocks or even foils according to your wishes. Or do you require special drawing parts? No problem.
E.WAGENER has excellent know-how in the processing of niobium, which enables us to manufacture and supply even complex parts specifically to your requirements. Benefit from our know-how!