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Molybdenum

What Is Molybdenum?

Molybdenum is a silvery-white metal found in various oxidation states in minerals. It was originally mistaken for a lead compound because of its colour, softness and greasy feel. This metal has the sixth highest melting point of any element, making it the perfect material for items subject to high temperatures such as light bulb filaments and furnace components.

Pictures courtesy of http://www.mii.org/Minerals/photomoly.html

According to Wisegeek.com:

“Molybdenum is important biologically as it facilitates the process of nitrogen absorption in plants. In order for soil to support plant life, it must contain a satisfactory level of molybdenum. Trace amounts of dietary molybdenum are also necessary to promote growth in animals; excessive amounts of molybdenum however are toxic.”

What Is Molybdenum Used For?

As stated above, Molybdenum is used in applications involving intense heat, and is also used in the manufacture of rifle barrels, aircrafts, missiles, electrical contacts, industrial motors and spacecrafts.

When combined with steel, the steel becomes rust and corrosion resistant and has high weldability. It is used as a smoke and flame retardant, a corrosion inhibitor, a dry lubricant, and a chemical catalyst in certain applications in the petroleum industry. (Source: Wisegeek.com)

Molybdenum is used as a pigment in paint, a chemical catalyst and in all tools and products containing stainless steel such as cooking pots, construction equipment, alloys, motor parts and bearings.

Biologically it is present in your teeth and is believed to prevent tooth decay and plays an important role in certain enzymes, which catalyze oxidation and fix the nitrogen found in some bacteria.

Where Is Molybdenum Produced?

The world's largest producers of Molybdenum materials are the United States, China, Chile, Peru and Canada.

Conclusion

Molybdenum is the 54th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It has both biological and industrial applications, is widely available, affordable to mine and use, and therefore will not be quickly substituted by another element.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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