99.999% Pure niobium

The shiny gray niobium is not unlike tantalum, which also has a very high melting temperature. A striking difference to tantalum is the significantly lower density. The pure metal is easy to process due to its low hardness. However, if it is slightly contaminated with carbon, it becomes much harder and more brittle. Niobium is a relatively base element. In the air, a protective oxide layer forms around the metal, which protects it from further corrosion and provides additional resistance. These wafer-thin oxide layers on the metal surface cause the colored shimmering that occurs when a compact piece is heated with the burner. Niobium powder is pyrophoric and can therefore self-ignite. Glowing niobium powder reacts with oxygen to form niobium (V) oxide.

The compact metal resists most acids at room temperature. After heating, however, almost all acids are able to decompose the metal. At higher temperatures it also reacts with most non-metals such as nitrogen or carbon, hydrogen and also with chlorine.

Niobium - a fantastic and underrated all-rounder
Hardly anyone will get around niobium in their life, even though it is relatively unknown as a metal. Nevertheless, it combines several properties that make it a popular all-rounder. The melting point of niobium is very high, almost 2,500 ° C. Despite its exceptional stability and strength, the metal can be processed very well, which is why it is often used in the construction of pipelines, high-voltage pylons or high bridge pillars. The successes in space travel would not have been possible without niobium. The space shuttle had installed niobium pipes, screws and nuts at its most sensitive points in order to withstand the extreme temperatures when it entered the earth's atmosphere.

The only catch: There are 41 metals that are more common in the earth's crust than niobium. Nevertheless, there is no alternative in some areas of application.

Niobium alloys have almost unlimited possibilities
Materials with niobium alloys are generally characterized by increased mechanical strength. The slightest addition of niobium makes steel much stronger and tougher. Anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle has most likely done so on rims made of a niobium-aluminum alloy, which guarantees lightness and stability. Even in high-tech areas of application such as particle accelerators as superconductors at extremely low temperatures or lasers, niobium alloys are indispensable.