Niobium is an extremely valuable and rare metal. Like other rare metals, it is salvageable from sputtering targets. Lustrous and gray in color, it’s also quite similar to tantalum on both a chemical and anatomical level, so much so that both metals are often used in the same applications and extracted from the same sources.
Tantalum and niobium are so similar that without specialized, sensitive equipment, it’s impossible to tell the two apart from one another. This similarity has long been acknowledged in the world of chemistry and in fact led to their current names: the name tantalum derives from a similarly named figure in Greek mythology, Tantalus. In the same ancient sources, Tantalus’s daughter was one Niobe, in turn inspiring the name.
Both metals are prized for their impressive strength and the excellent durability that they produce when mixed with other metals as alloys. While Niobium is not used at a level higher than 0.1% in alloys, this minuscular amount is still enough to protect metals under corrosive risk and high pressure, used to excellent effects for gas pipelines, for example. The metal’s temperature stability also makes it a fantastic material for jet and rocket engine superalloys.
Niobium is also typically found serving as a crucial metal for the production of magnets and superconductors. This includes magnets developed for use in particle accelerators and medical imaging machines. The metal is extracted primarily from Brazil and Canada.
When topics like salvaging and recycling come up in conversation, the straightforward process that one can expect from salvaging and recycling aluminum generally comes to mind. But when it comes to materials such as this, the process is more complex and requires some explanation.
Salvaging Niobium involves the use of sputtering targets. Sputtering is an industrial process in which particles are eroded from a piece of source metal by way of harnessed, charged particles. The charged particles place the eroded particles on to another surface, which is generally a film. Once the sputtering process has finished, the film is then coated with the desired material and its properties are free to be used once again.
This process is just as important as the better-known recycling processes out there. It keeps difficult to find metals in circulation and reduces the unnecessary consumption of energy, saving resources and causing less pollution.
Niobium plays an extremely important role in industries across the world. However, it is a very rare metal with a very limited supply: according to the latest available figures, This metal makes up as little as one or two parts per million of the Earth’s crust. While recycling rare and precious metals is important now, diligence about recycling will only become more important as time goes by and the supplies for these metals continues to dwindle and increase in value.
Metal recycling is important. Tossing things out without reuse is both a waste of landfill space and a waste of the energy spent on producing the product in the first place. By scrapping material with professionals such Republic Alloys, businesses and consumers can be sure that they’re doing their part in contributing to the economy and helping the environment. Recycling is simply the right thing to do.
Any business with an abundance of scrap metal should contact a recycling and recovery expert to help with the overflow. Republic Alloys can haul off metal scrap and take care of the difficult task of breaking down and recovering useful metals to keep them in circulation. This will lessen the amount of metal that needs to be mined and keep valuable resources out of the landfills.