The solid metal element that is #42 on the Periodic Table of Elements is called molybdenum, which comes from the Latin word for lead. However, this unique element has nothing to do with lead. Instead, it is formed during when tin, tungsten, and copper are processed after mining.
The practical uses for molybdenum metal began way back in 1778 when it was discovered. However, more modern technological advances and industries have created more uses than ever before. Although it begins as a powder in manufacturing, molybdenum foil is commonly used products and applications.
What Properties Make Molybdenum Useful?
This metal accomplishes many useful jobs across various industries due to its key properties.
- Melts at an extremely high temperature over 2000-degrees Celsius
- Retains its strength when heated
- Also has excellent strength at normal temperatures
- Conducts both heat and electrical currents efficiently
Molybdenum Practical Uses Across Various Industries
Although there is a diverse range of uses for molybdenum foil and other structures, these five are the most common.
1 – Electrodes and Filaments
Since this metal element only melts at exceptionally high temperatures, it is ideal for use in creating electrodes for glass furnaces and other electrically-powered, high-temperature systems. Similarly, filaments for these systems and certain types of light bulbs are made with molybdenum.
2 – Petroleum Refinery Uses
Molybdenum in various forms helps petroleum refineries and processing plants stay productive and safe. In the refining process, a form of the powdered metal operates as a catalyst. When added to the petroleum being processed, it helps to eliminate sulfur. Molybdenum foil and coated parts make up some of the machinery involved as well. It is especially useful due to its corrosion resistance and high melt temperature.
3 – Creation of Metal Alloys
An alloy is a mixture of two or more types of metal together. These are created to combine materials characteristics, increase strength of toughness, improve metal resistance, negates corrosion possibilities, and allows for easier welding and use in various applications.
Molybdenum is a common element combined with steel that is then used across a vast array of industries such as structural building, tool and die manufacturing, and even stainless steel. Of all the molybdenum in the world, about 80% of it is used in steel alloy production.
4 – Heat and X-Ray Shielding
Extremely high heat resistance makes molybdenum foil the perfect material for covering others that may experience structural or chemical destruction or changes due to excessive temperature exposure. It also shields from x-rays. These two characteristics together make this metal an exceptional choice for use in building airplanes, missiles, rockets, and space vehicles.
5 – Lubricants and Adhesives
Although these two purposes seem directly opposite from each other, molybdenum is used to create both. However, the type of metal used for these is not the pure variety used to make molybdenum foil or filaments. Instead, various compounds such as acid, phosphide, and hexafluoride are used. Different types either help lubricate machine parts in high-temperature situations, or make it possible to adhere enamel coatings to various metals.