Niobium, a soft, shiny, white metal, is also known as columbium since it was originally discovered in a mineral named columbite. Like tantalum, niobium resists corrosion and maintains good physical properties at high temperatures but offers other outstanding attributes.

Although frequently found in the same minerals as tantalum, niobium is more plentiful in nature. Over 100 million pounds of niobium products are produced each year. The largest market for niobium is in high-strength, low-alloy steel production where it brings high temperature strength and corrosion resistance to gas pipelines, automobile components and structural steel.

Smaller volumes of niobium are used in superalloys with nickel, cobalt and iron for jet aircraft engine and power generation turbine blades. Specialty niobium alloys are used in superconducting magnets and cable for applications including magnetic resonance imaging for medical diagnostics and particle accelerators for physics research, and in high intensity, sodium vapor lighting applications.

Niobium oxide improves the refractive index of optical glass, allowing for thinner and lighter lenses, advanced optics, camera lenses, and eyeglasses. Niobium and niobium oxides are also emerging as a dielectric material for electronic capacitors

Leave a Reply