Vanadium is the chemical element of atomic number 23. Its symbol is V. The rare element found in the form of compound in certain minerals is a transition metal hard, silvery silver, ductile. The elemental element is rarely found in nature, but once it is artificially isolated, the formation of a layer of oxide (passivation) stabilizes the free metal against further oxidation.
The vanadium compounds were discovered by Andrés Manuel del Río in Mexico in 1801, through the analysis of a new mineral (called "brown lead"), where he understood that his qualities were due to the presence of an unknown element, which he called Erythronium (Greek "red") since, following heating, most of the salts become red. Four years later, however, it was (erroneously) considered by other scientists identical to chromium. Vanadium Chlorides were produced in 1830 by Nils Gabriel Sefström, thus demonstrating the presence of a new element for which vanadis (Freyja) coined the name of vanadio with the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and fertility. In 1867 Henry Enfield Roscoe obtained the pure element.
Vanadium is naturally found in about 65 different minerals and in fossil fuel deposits. It is produced in China and Russia by the slags of steel foundries; Other countries produce it either from the heavy oil discharge dust or as a by-product of uranium extraction. It is mainly used in metallurgy, for the production of special steel alloys, such as super fast tool steels. The most important vanadium industrial compound, vanadium pentoxide, is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.
Big amounts of vanadium ions are found in some organisms, probably as toxins. Oxide and some other vanadium salts exhibit moderate toxicity. Particularly in the marine environment, vanadium is used in some forms of life as an active enzyme center.
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