Vanadium is a silver-grey metal that is malleable, ductile and corrosion resistant. This makes it ideal as an alloy for increasing the tensile strength of steel and other specialty metals.
Vanadium is used in materials that have important end uses including:
- Steel alloys – vanadium plays an essential role as an alloy to increase the tensile strength of steel and provide resistance for use in buildings, bridges and tunnels.
- Titanium alloys – along with titanium and aluminium, it is used in key components such as landing gear, airframes and engine parts to provide ultra-high strength.
Industries that depend heavily on vanadium include construction, aerospace, ship building, the automobile sector, wind turbines and industrial tools.
Over 90% of the vanadium produced around the world today is used as a high strength alloy in the steel and titanium industries. Demand in these markets is forecast to grow steadily.
Vanadium is also used in the chemicals industry and the rapidly emerging energy storage sector. And whilst the steel and titanium alloy markets will continue to be important for vanadium, the global push towards clean energy and the requirement for long duration utility-scale energy storage is expected to drive demand for vanadium in coming decades.
A recent World Bank report, Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition, forecasts that to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies, the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium and cobalt will increase by nearly 200 per cent by 2050. The report estimates that 3 billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy the wind, solar and geothermal power – as well as the energy storage systems – required to meet the carbon reduction goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Vanadium is expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of the transition to a clean energy future. The World Bank estimates that the global adoption of renewable energy will also drive a 200 per cent rise in the annual demand for vanadium by 2050.