Properties & Applications of Niobium
Niobium (Nb) is a grey transition metal that is commonly used as an alloying material in high-volume mid-value steelmaking and lower throughput super alloy processing for precious high-technology applications. One of the main advantages of niobium is that it only takes a small amount to significantly change an alloyed structure’s output properties.
Niobium round bars are mainly consumed as an additive to high strength, low alloy steel, and stainless steel for oil and gas pipelines, car and truck frames, architectural standards, tool steels, ship hulls, etc., railroad tracks. However, niobium metal and its derivatives have several other uses.
While niobium has many uses, the majority of it is used to produce high-quality structural steel. Nickel-based superalloys are the second-largest market for niobium.
Gravimeters calculate variations in the gravity of the Earth. A small sphere of niobium metal suspended in a magnetic field below -263oC (9.2 K), close to absolute zero, is used in an unusually accurate superconducting gravimeter. Niobium wire coils, which are also kept at this low temperature, provide no resistance to the electrical current that flows through them, resulting in the perfectly stable magnetic field that levitates the niobium sphere. Before the development of niobium superconductors, earlier gravimeters relied on reference weights connected to mechanical springs.
Niobium round bars have a hard surface modification that has been used for over ten years to protect orthopedic applications such as artificial knees from wear and allergies. Niobium serves as a physical shield to decay and release metallic ions into the surrounding biologic world, allowing Niobium-coated prostheses to be inserted safely in metal-sensitive patients.
Niobium round bars can create sturdy, long-lasting implants that are fully biocompatible with the human body. Niobium alloys have a high functional complex and can recover their original shape after broad and repeated deformations. These alloys, according to scientists, are the most exciting class of metallic biomaterials. This is because of their distinct mix of biochemical and biomechanical properties: Niobium is distinguished by its complete biocompatibility and high corrosion resistance and hyperelastic behavior, which is very similar to that of human bone.
Niobium in superalloys
Niobium round bars contribute significantly to super nickel alloys due to their exceptional hardness, comparable to titanium but with iron flexibility. Niobium, like molybdenum, is a refractory metal that is widely found in the superalloy composition. Other metals in this group include tantalum, which we’ve already described, tungsten, and rhenium. All of these refractory metals have common properties, including high heat and wear resistance. At room temperature, they all have a very high melting point and a high degree of hardness. All of these characteristics are highly desirable in commercial nickel alloys.
A wide range of superconductor wire applications depends on niobium and niobium-based alloys. These materials are converted from large diameter rods to excellent wire filaments greater than 10 mm in diameter. These wires are used in nuclear energy, high energy physics, MRI, and other applications that include strong magnetic fields.
The relatively tiny quantity used in each alloy is sufficient to provide the final alloy with this superior strength. Niobium round bars are also commonly used in aerospace, including aircraft engines and rocketry, owing to their excellent thermal stability.