AROUND THE WORLD, TANTALUM AND NIOBIUM ARE PRODUCED AND SOLD IN VARIOUS FORMS, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH ARE:
– pentoxides (Nb2O5 and Ta2O5);
– carbides (NbC and TaC);
– metal niobium and tantalum;
– ferroniobium (FeNb);
– potassium fluorotantalate (K2TaF7);
– lithium niobate and tantalate (LiNbO3 and LiTaO3)
APPLICATION TANTALUM AND NIOBIUM
Originally, tantalum and niobium used for the manufacture of wire for incandescent lamps. However, due to its unique properties: ductility, strength, corrosion resistance and heat-resistant, high coefficient of heat transfer, the ability to "get along" with the living tissue of the body, the metal has found a practice in electronics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, nuclear power, metallurgy and in medicine.
High strength low alloyed steels are used to fabricate the bodies of passenger cars and trucks, bridges, railways, ship hulls, and oil and gas pipelines. They also provide the cathode protection of large steel constructions such as oil platforms.
Other metals used in alloys along with niobium include zirconium, titanium, and tin. Such alloys possess high corrosion resistance; therefore, they find application in the production of apparatuses of chemical industry and pipelines. In addition, alloys of niobium with titanium (the NT-50 alloy, TC ~ 13K) or niobium with tin (Nb3Sn, TC ~ 18K), which are the basis of technical superconductors (electrical resistance is absent in them at very low temperatures), are used to obtain the high magnetic fields necessary for various industrial and practical applications. The most well-known ones are magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) in medicine and the spectroscopy of nuclear spin resonance (NSR) in biology, chemistry, and materials science. While pure niobium is used to accelerate the particle beams, superconducting NbTi based magnets are used to focus the beams similarly as in analyzer detectors of particle collisions. Therefore, a large hadron collider requires several hundred tons of the NbTi alloy and several tens of tons of pure niobium for superconducting applications.
The market for tantalum is expected to register a CAGR of over 5.5% during 2016-2025 period. Major factors driving the market studied are the growth of the electronic industry and extensive usage of tantalum alloys in aviation and gas turbines. However, the detrimental effect of tantalum powder is expected to hinder the growth of the market studied:
– The capacitor’s application segment dominated the market owing to the fact that more than 50% of the total tantalum consumed is used as powder and wire to make capacitors in the electronics industry. – Replacement of solid capacitors with polymer tantalum capacitors is likely to act as an opportunity in the future. – Asia-Pacific dominated the market across the globe with the largest consumption from the countries, such as China and South Korea. The major growth driver of the Global Niobium Market is the increasing demand for steel in emerging markets for construction, automotive and aerospace applications as niobium is primarily used for making specialised steel alloys. However, the very nature of the metal being rare and extremely difficult to find makes the mining of niobium costly and acts as a growth barrier for the market. The increased uses of niobium in newer application areas provide this market with growth opportunities in future.