|Boiling Point: 5017°K, 4744°C, 8571°F
Melting Point: 2741°K, 2468°C, 4474°F
Electrons Energy Level: 2, 8, 18, 12, 1
Isotopes: 32 + 1 Stable
Heat of Vaporization: 682 kJ/mol
Heat of Fusion: 26.4 kJ/mol
Density: 8.57 g/cm3 @ 300°K
Specific Heat: 0.26 J/g°K
Atomic Radius: 2.08Å
Ionic Radius: 0.69Å
Electronegativity: 1.6 (Pauling); 1.23 (Allrod Rochow)
Vapor Pressure: 0.0755 Pa @ 2468°C
1s2 2s2p6 3s2p6d10 4s2p6d4 5s1
Niobium (Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus). The first governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop the Younger, discovered a new mineral around 1734. He named the mineral columbite ((Fe, Mn, Mg)(Nb, Ta)2O6) and sent a sample of it to the British Museum in London, England. The columbite sat in the museum's mineral collection for years until it was found and analyzed by Charles Hatchett in 1801. Hatchett could tell that there was an unknown element in the columbite, but he was not able to isolate it. He named the new element columbium.
The fate of columbium took a drastic turn in 1809 when William Hyde Wollaston, an English chemist and physicist, compared the minerals columbite and tantalite ((Fe, Mn)(Ta, Nb)2O6) and declared that columbium was actually the element tantalum. This confusion arose because tantalum and niobium are similar metals, are always found together and are very difficult to isolate.
Niobium was rediscovered and renamed by Heinrich Rose in 1844 when he produced two new acids, niobic acid and pelopic acid, from samples of columbite and tantalite. These acids are very similar to each other and it took another twenty-two years and a Swiss chemist named Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac to prove that these were two distinct chemicals produced from two different elements. Metallic niobium was finally isolated by the Swedish chemist Christian Wilhelm Blomstrand in 1864 by reducing niobium chloride by heating it in a hydrogen atmosphere. Today, niobium is primarily obtained from the minerals columbite and pyrochlore ((Ca, Na)2Nb2O6(O, OH, F)).
Columbium (symbol Cb) was the name originally given to this element by Hatchett, but the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially adopted "niobium" as the name for element 41 in 1950 after 100 years of controversy. This was a compromise of sorts; the IUPAC accepted tungsten instead of wolfram, in deference to North American usage; and niobium instead of columbium, in deference to European usage. Not everyone agreed, however, and while many leading chemical societies and government organizations refer to it by the official IUPAC name, many leading metallurgists, metal societies, and most leading American commercial producers still refer to the metal by the original "columbium".
A rare, soft, shiny gray, ductile transition metal that takes on a bluish tinge when exposed to air at room temperature for extended periods. Niobium is found in niobite and used in alloys. The most notable alloys are used to make special steels and strong welded joints. Niobium was discovered in a variety of columbite (now called niobite) and was at first named after this mineral.
When it is processed at even moderate temperatures niobium must be placed in a protective atmosphere. The metal begins to oxidize in air at 200°C; its most common oxidations states are +3, and +5, although others are also known.
The element is never found as a free element but does occur in the minerals columbite ((Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2O6), columbite-tantalite or coltan ((Fe,Mn)(Ta,Nb)2O6), pyrochlore ((Na, Ca)2Nb2O6OH, F), and euxenite ((Y, Ca, Ce, U, Th)(Nb,Ta,, Ti)2O6). Minerals that contain niobium often also contain tantalum. Large deposits of niobium have been found associated with carbonatites (carbon-silicate igneous rocks) and as a constituent of pyrochlore. Brazil and Canada are the major producers of niobium mineral concentrates and extensive ore reserves are also in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Russia. A large producer in Brazil is CBMM located in Araxa, Minas Gerais.
Niobium has a number of uses: it is a component of some stainless steels and an alloy of other nonferrous metals. These alloys are strong and are often used in pipeline construction. Other uses;
Pure niobium is itself a superconductor when it is cooled to cryogenic temperatues below 9.25 K (-442.75°F). At atmospheric pressure, it has the highest critical temperature of the elemental superconductors: 9.3oK. Niobium has the largest magnetic penetration depth of any element. In addition, it is one of the three elemental superconductors that are Type II (the others being vanadium and technetium), meaning it remains a superconductor when subjected to high magnetic fields. Niobium-tin and niobium-titanium alloys are used as wires for superconducting magnets capable of producing exceedingly strong magnetic fields. Niobium is also used in its pure form to make superconducting accelerating structures for particle accelerators.
Superconductive niobium cavities are at the heart of a machine built at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. This machine, called an electron accelerator, is used by scientists to study the quark structure of matter. The accelerator's 338 niobium cavities are bathed in liquid helium and accelerted electrons to nearly the speed of light.
|Columbite, (Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2O6|
|Columbite-Tantalite or Coltan, (Fe,Mn)(Ta,Nb)2O6|
|Pyrochlore, (Na, Ca)2Nb2O6OH, F|
|Euxenite, (Y, Ca, Ce, U, Th)(Nb,Ta,, Ti)2O6|
Naturally occurring niobium is composed of one stable isotope (Nb-93). The most stable radioisotopes are Nb-92 with a half-life of 34.7 million years, Nb-94 (half life: 20,300 years), and Nb-91 with a half life of 680 years. There is also a meta state at 0.031 megaelectronvolts whose half-life is 16.13 years. Thirty two radioisotopes have been characterized. Most of these have half lives that are less than two hours except Nb-95 (35 days), Nb-96 (23.4 hours) and Nb-90 (14.6 hours). The primary decay mode before the stable Nb-93 is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta emission with some neutron emission occurring in the first mode of the two mode decay of Nb-104, 109 and 110. It is worth 4 dollars a gram. Charles Hatchett could not isolate the elements tantalum and columbium (niobium). Christian Blomstrand could separate them, however.
|92Nb||91.907194||3.47E 7 years|
|Niobium-containing compounds are relatively rarely encountered by most people, but many are highly toxic and should be treated with care. Metallic niobium dust is an eye and skin irritant and also can be a fire hazard. Niobium has no known biological role. However, people use niobium for colored body jewelry.|
|Ionization Energy (eV): 6.759 eV
Estimated Crustal Abundance: 2.0×101 milligrams per kilogram
Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 1×10-5 milligrams per liter