Vanadium has the atomic number 23 and the letter V for its symbol.It is a transition metal that has numerous applications due to its unique properties. Vanadium is a hard, silvery-grey metal that is ductile, malleable, and corrosion-resistant.

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The discovery of vanadium can be attributed to two scientists, Andrés Manuel del Río, a Mexican mineralogist, and Nils Gabriel Sefström, a Swedish chemist. In 1801, del Río discovered a new element in a mineral sample that he named “erythronium.” However, his discovery was disputed, and it was not until 1830 that Sefström rediscovered the element and named it vanadium after the Scandinavian goddess Vanadis.

Vanadium is a rare element that is found in nature primarily in the form of vanadate minerals. It is mined in several countries, including China, South Africa, and Russia. The metal is extracted from its ores by various methods, including roasting, smelting, and leaching.

One of the unique properties of vanadium is its ability to form multiple oxidation states. The most common oxidation states of vanadium are +2, +3, +4, and +5. This property makes vanadium useful in many industrial applications, such as the production of steel, where it is used as a strengthening agent. Vanadium steel is known for its high strength, toughness, and resistance to corrosion, making it ideal for use in tools, knives, and other applications where strength and durability are essential.

Another important use of vanadium is in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries. Vanadium redox flow batteries are an emerging technology that is being developed for use in energy storage systems. These batteries have a long lifespan and can store large amounts of energy, making them suitable for use in renewable energy applications.

Vanadium is also used in the production of pigments and ceramics. Vanadium pentoxide is used to produce yellow pigments, while vanadium oxide is used to produce blue and green pigments. In the ceramics industry, vanadium compounds are used to produce glazes that give ceramics a unique appearance.

Vanadium electron configuration

Vanadium’s electron configuration can be stated as:

1s² 2s² 2p⁶ 3s² 3p⁶ 4s² 3d³

This means that vanadium has two electrons in its 1s orbital, two in its 2s orbital, six in its 2p orbital, two in its 3s orbital, six in its 3p orbital, two in its 4s orbital, and three in its 3d orbital.

The electron configuration of vanadium indicates that it has a total of 23 electrons, which matches its atomic number.

The 3d electrons of vanadium are valence electrons, meaning they are involved in chemical bonding and reactions. Vanadium has five valence electrons, as it has three electrons in the 3d orbital and two in the 4s orbital. This gives vanadium the ability to form compounds with a range of oxidation states, from +2 to +5.

What are vanadium batteries?

Vanadium batteries, also known as vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs), are a type of rechargeable battery that uses vanadium ions in its electrolyte solution. VRFBs have been gaining attention as a promising technology for large-scale energy storage systems, particularly for renewable energy applications.

In a VRFB, the electrolyte solution consists of two separate tanks, each containing a solution of vanadium ions at different oxidation states. One tank contains vanadium ions in the +2 oxidation state, while the other tank contains vanadium ions in the +5 oxidation state. The two solutions are separated by a membrane, which allows ions to pass through while keeping the two solutions separate.

During charging, the vanadium ions in the +5 oxidation state are converted to the +4 oxidation state, while the vanadium ions in the +2 oxidation state are converted to the +3 oxidation state. This results in a buildup of electrical potential between the two tanks, which can be used to generate electricity.

During discharge, the vanadium ions are converted back to their original oxidation states, releasing electrical energy in the process. The flow of the electrolyte solution is used to maintain a constant supply of vanadium ions, allowing the battery to continue producing electricity for long periods of time.

VRFBs have several advantages over other types of batteries. They have a long lifespan, with a typical lifespan of 20 years or more. They are also highly efficient, with a round-trip efficiency of around 75-80%, meaning that they can store and release energy with relatively low losses. Additionally, VRFBs are safe and environmentally friendly, as they do not contain toxic or flammable materials.

Due to their advantages, VRFBs are being developed for a variety of applications, including renewable energy storage, grid-scale energy storage, and backup power systems.

Where are vanadium mines found?

Vanadium is a relatively rare metal, and its mines are primarily found in a few countries around the world. The largest producers of vanadium are China, Russia, and South Africa. Other countries that produce significant amounts of vanadium include Brazil, Canada, and Australia.

In China, the majority of vanadium is produced from vanadium-bearing titaniferous magnetite ores found in the Panzhihua region of Sichuan province. China is the largest producer of vanadium in the world, accounting for around 60% of global production.

Russia produces vanadium from both titaniferous magnetite ores and from petroleum residues. The majority of vanadium production in Russia comes from the Kachkanar mine in the Ural Mountains.

South Africa is the third-largest producer of vanadium in the world, with production primarily coming from the Bushveld Igneous Complex in the northern part of the country. The vanadium is extracted as a byproduct of platinum group metals (PGMs) mining.

Brazil, Canada, and Australia also have significant vanadium resources. In Brazil, vanadium is produced from titaniferous magnetite ores found in the state of Minas Gerais. In Canada, vanadium is produced from both titaniferous magnetite ores and uranium ores. In Australia, vanadium is primarily produced from vanadium-bearing titano-magnetite ores found in Western Australia.

In addition to these countries, smaller amounts of vanadium are produced in several other countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Argentina. However, these countries produce relatively small amounts of vanadium compared to the major producers mentioned above.

Uses of different vanadium oxides

Vanadium Oxide

Chemical Formula


Vanadium(II) oxide


Used as a reducing agent and as a catalyst in organic chemistry

Vanadium(III) oxide


Used in the production of ceramics, as a pigment for glass and ceramics, and as a catalyst in the production of sulfuric acid

Vanadium(IV) oxide


Used as a thermochromic material in smart windows, as a catalyst in chemical reactions, and as an electrode material in lithium-ion batteries

Vanadium(V) oxide


Used as a catalyst in the production of sulfuric acid and other chemicals, as a pigment in ceramics and glass, and as a component of batteries and electronic devices

Major compounds of vanadium

  • Vanadium carbide (VC): Used as a hardener for steels and other alloys.
  • Ammonium metavanadate ((NH4)VO3): Used as a catalyst in chemical reactions, and as a source of vanadium for the production of other vanadium compounds.
  • Sodium metavanadate (NaVO3): Used as a source of vanadium for the production of other vanadium compounds, as well as a catalyst in some chemical reactions.
  • Vanadyl sulfate (VOSO4): Used as a source of vanadium in the production of catalysts, and as a dietary supplement for livestock.
  • Vanadyl acetylacetonate (VO(acac)2): Used as a catalyst in organic chemistry reactions, and as a starting material for the production of other vanadium compounds.
  • Sodium orthovanadate (Na3VO4): Used as a source of vanadium for the production of other vanadium compounds, and as a reagent in some analytical chemistry procedures.

These are just a few examples, as there are many other vanadium compounds with a wide range of applications, including in catalysts, pigments, and electroplating.

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