What is Vanadium?

Vanadium, element number 23 (V), is a silvery-grey ductile, transition metal primarily used to make steel alloys. A small percentage of Vanadium added to steel or aluminium, makes products stronger, lighter and more efficient.

Vanadium is classed as a Critical Mineral by the Australian Government. Vanadium is a new energy mineral and a ‘strategic metal’ when building a new energy economy. New economy minerals are strongly supported by Federal and Queensland Governments. As a Critical Mineral, Vanadium is listed for priority development and investment.

Vanadium is not found on its own in the Earth’s crust, instead it may be found in magnetite (iron oxide), aluminium ore, sandstone, coal, or as in QEM’s case, in oil shale. Once Vanadium is extracted and dissolved in water, it transitions into several bright shades of the rainbow, and has hence been referred to as “the most beautiful metal of all”. In fact, Vanadium is named after Vanadis, the goddess of beauty in Scandinavian mythology.

Vanadium - General Applications

90% of vanadium consumption today occurs in the steel industry, with the remaining 10% of vanadium supply being used in the production of titanium alloys, super alloys, chemical applications and energy storage applications, where quality requirements are typically more rigorous. The properties of vanadium make it highly effective in strengthening metals and reducing corrosion;

  • Less than 1% of vanadium, and as little chromium, makes steel shock resistant and vibration resistant
  • Vanadium-titanium alloys have the best strength-to-weight ratio of any engineered material on earth
  • Vanadium, being corrosion resistant, is used to make special tubes and pipes for the chemical industry

Construction - Anti-Seismic Rebars

The construction sector is the largest consumer of steel products, and with approximately 90% of vanadium being used in steel. Vanadium micro-alloyed high strength rebar is a safe, reliable and cost effective solution for reinforced concrete construction, particularly in the world’s earthquake prone regions.

The National Stadium of Beijing, referred to unofficially as the “Bird’s Nest”, is constructed using vanadium alloys for extra strength.


In aviation and aerospace, vanadium’s strength and thermal stability is utilised in jet engines with vanadium foil being used in cladding titanium to steel to construct airframes. In this sector, vanadium is irreplaceable as there is no acceptable substitute in aerospace titanium alloys. As with steel alloys used in construction, only small amounts are required in order to achieve the desired critical properties for safety and performance.

Tools & Dies, High Strength Bolts

The essential tools and dies used to manufacture engineering components and everyday articles often contain vanadium for improved cutting edge hardness and wear resistance. Used in spanners, screwdrivers and other domestic and engineering tools, vanadium is added with chromium to increase strength and increase resistance to wear. Vanadium is also added to high strength bolts to improve their resistance to hydrogen induced delayed failure.

Vanadium’s strength and thermal stability is used in jet engines with vanadium foil being used in cladding titanium to steel to construct airframes


The addition of vanadium to rail steels can increase the tensile strength from about 700 N/mm2 to over 1,200 N/mm2, which thereby increases the wear and fatigue resistance of the rails.

Mooring & Anchor Chains

Welded heavy chains, used for mooring ships and offshore platforms exploit the grain refining capability of vanadium, which provides increased strength and wear resistance.


Vanadium contributes to the strength and economic efficiency demanded in materials for automobiles and trucks. High strength automotive suspension and valve springs benefit from vanadium additions as a result of improved sag resistance and the potential to reduce the size and weight.

Smart Glass

Smart glass windows manufactured with vanadium are capable of saving energy by preventing thermal radiation from escaping, and as a result, preventing heat loss during the winter, and by avoiding infrared radiation from the sun from entering the building during the summer.

Knives & Blades

Vanadium is added to chromium cutlery steels to increase the hardness of the steel and to give a longer-lasting, better cutting edge.

Chemical Industry

Chemical applications include; catalysts, dyes, phosphors, ceramic pigments and in producing superconducting magnets. The most important industrial vanadium compound, vanadium pentoxide, is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.

Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB)

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB’s) are the most efficient battery technology suitable for utility scale renewable energy storage for both wind and solar. Characterised as being compact, fully containerised, non-flammable and reusable over semi-infinite cycles, with a very fast response time.

The largest VRB under construction in the world by Ronge Power in Dalian, China.


With recent requirements to increase vanadium levels in construction metals within the developing world, Vanadium demand is set to increase significantly. The revised standards are expected to increase global vanadium demand by between 10,000t to 15,000t by 2026, and the global vanadium market size is forecasted for strong growth to be worth approximately US$ 56 billion within the same period. Demand is conservatively forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6%, reaching 133,000t in 2025, and supply including all idle capacity and expansion of existing primary mines, predicted to grow at a CAGR of 3.7% to 111,000t in 2025.