Vanadium is a remarkably versatile element. Its use has risen substantially in recent years, as have the number of innovation-driven industries that depend on vanadium for their operations and products.
The power of Vanadium lies in its criticality to multiple industries, its potential to drive step-change advances in power generation, and its ability to help protect the environment by increasing efficiency, improving fuel economy, and reducing air emissions.
Element 23 on the periodic table, Vanadium is classified as a transition metal. Ductile and malleable, it is most often used as a strengthening agent for steel in applications such as construction rebar, bridges, buildings, tunnels, automotive parts, aerospace applications, ships, pipelines and many other sectors. New and stronger standards for construction-related steel rebar in China have contributed to recent rises in the global consumption of vanadium, as shown in the accompanying chart.
The more that vanadium-strengthened steel is used in infrastructure and transportation systems, the more lightweighting is achieved in those systems. That, in turn, can help to increase efficiencies, reduce fuel consumption, and lessen harmful air emissions.
More than 90% of all Vanadium today is used as an additive to high-strength steel. But demand is rising for Vanadium in high-purity oxide forms and in other specialty vanadium chemicals, particularly for applications in aerospace, air and surface transportation, refining, chemical and catalysts, and large-scale energy storage.
Vanadium Redox Batteries (VRB) are a good case in point.
VRB batteries, sometimes called Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB), are rechargeable batteries that take advantage of the fact that Vanadium ions in different oxidation states can efficiently store chemical potential energy. VRBs allow for an almost unlimited energy capacity, can be discharged to very high percentages without damage, have very long cycle lives (at least 15,000-20,000 charge/discharge cycles), and can remain unused for long periods without permanent affects to the system.
All of this leads to a relatively low levelized cost of energy compared to other large-scale battery systems, such as lithium-ion batteries. VRBs also are an effective means of providing cost-effective load balancing to large-scale electricity distribution systems. Not surprisingly, electric utilities and other power providers are intensely interested in deploying more VRBs across their systems, particularly as a means of supporting increased utilization of intermittent electricity generation systems, such as wind and solar power.
VRBs utilize high-purity V2O5, such as that sold by U.S. Vanadium, and current consumption of V2O5 by VRB manufacturers is estimated to be in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 MT per year. How much could that grow? Several VRB companies have indicated that their combined annual demand could be in the range of 20,000 MT V2O5 as early as 2020.
Whether used as a steel additive, as a high-purity oxide, or in specialty chemicals, Vanadium is a powerful and highly versatile strategic metal that is increasingly in the spotlight. U.S. Vanadium helps our customers solve vanadium technical challenges and secure adequate supplies of a wide range of Vanadium products. Give our technical sales team a call at 1-888-V-Purity (1-888-878-7489) or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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