What is Vanadium?

Vanadium is a chemical element which is placed in the 5th group and 4th period in the periodic table. Symbol of the vanadium element is V. It is a transition metal element with the atomic number 23. Titanium is the 3rd element of the first series of transition metals. Ti is present before vanadium in the 1st series of transition elements and Nb is placed below vanadium in the periodic table. Nb is also a transition metal which is a member of the 2nd series of transition elements. Vanadium does not show any similarity in physical and chemical properties with Nb although they are present in the same group. As vanadium is found in the 4th group so, it is a d – block element. Vanadium has a blue – silvery - grey metallic appearance. 

Vanadium was discovered by Spanish Mexican scientist Andres Manuel Del Rio in 1801 and first isolated by Swedish Chemist Nils Gabriel Sefstrom in 1830. Although pure vanadium was obtained by British chemist Henry Enfield Roscoe in 1867. The element vanadium is also named by Nils Gabriel Sefstrom. He named it vanadium after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and fertility. 

Vanadium is one of the most abundant metallic elements and 20th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Vanadium has been detected in the light from the Sun and some other stars. Pure vanadium is rare in nature but it's almost 65 various compounds occur naturally. For commercial use vanadium is mostly obtained by extraction of patronite (VS4) ores. It is also found in crude oil, coal, oil shale (Sedimentary rock), tar sands deposits and bauxite ore. It is mostly produced directly from magnetite or heavy oil. It is also obtained as a byproduct of uranium mining. It is produced from steel smelter slag in China and Russia. 

Only two naturally occurring isotopes are available of vanadium which are stable in nature. Apart from these it has only two synthetic isotopes which are stable. Out of its synthetic isotopes 49V is the most stable with a half - life of 330 days. Its two naturally occurring isotopes are –50V and 51V. Out of its naturally occurring isotopes 51V is the most abundant isotope. Its alloys are also available with other elements such as iron, aluminium, titanium and molybdenum. 

Vanadium Atomic Number and Electronic Configuration 

Atomic number of vanadium is 23 and electronic configuration of vanadium is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d3 4s2 or it can be written as [Ar] 3d3 4s2. It has 2 electrons in K – shell, 8 electrons in L – shell, 11 electrons in M – shell and 2 electrons in its outermost shell N. 

Properties of Vanadium

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Physical and chemical properties of vanadium – Physical and chemical properties of vanadium are listed below –

  • It is found as solid at STP. 

  • Atomic mass of vanadium is 50.94.

  • It has blue – silvery - grey metallic appearance. 

  • Its melting point is 1910 .

  • Boiling point of vanadium is 3407 .

  • It shows body centered cubic (bcc) crystal structure.

  • It has low density. Its density is 6.11 g cm-3.

  • It is a malleable transition metal which is rarely found in its elemental form in nature. 

  • It is medium hard and ductile metal. 

  • According to the Pauling scale, its electronegativity is 1.63.

  • It has two isotopes. Both the isotopes are stable and occur naturally which are 50V and 51V. Although its key isotope is 51V which is the most abundant isotope of titanium.

  • Vanadium dioxide is a conductor of electricity but an insulator for heat.

  • It possesses good resistance to corrosion.

  • It does not get corroded by dilute sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid and alkalis.

  • It is a paramagnetic element. 

  • It is not brittle. 

  • Like other transition elements, vanadium also shows many oxidations states. It's important oxidation states are +2, +3, +4 and +5. Most common and largely used vanadium oxide is vanadium pentoxide or V2O5

  • Vanadium reacts with iodine and forms vanadium (III) iodide. Reaction is given below –

2V + 3I2 ⇌ 2VI3

Uses of Vanadium 

Vanadium is very useful in various fields mainly due to its unique property i.e. it is a good conductor of electricity and insulator of heat.  Few of its main uses are listed below –

  • Almost 85% of the total vanadium produced is used mainly as an additive in steel. It increases the strength of the steel. 

  • Vanadium steel is used in axles, crankshafts, bicycles, gears etc. 

  • Its alloys with titanium and aluminium are used in jet engines, missiles and dental implants. 

  • Its some alloys show superconductivity such as vanadium – gallium tape is used in superconducting magnets. 

  • Its oxides are used as catalysts in many reactions. 

  • Vanadium pentoxide is used in ceramics. 

  • It is used in the production of glass coatings, alexandrite jewelry.

  • It is used in redox batteries or flow batteries. 

Adverse Effects of Vanadium 

All vanadium compounds are toxic. According to the National institute of occupational safety and health, 35 mg/m3 of vanadium should be considered as red alert as it is immediately dangerous to life and health. It is carcinogenic and reproductive toxin. Vanadium fumes and vanadium pentoxide dust must be exposed in a controlled manner in industries. 

Vanadium Summary in Tabular Form 




Discovered By 

Spanish Mexican scientist Andres Manuel Del Rio in 1801

First Isolated by 

Swedish Chemist Nils Gabriel Sefstrom in 1830

Named by 

Nils Gabriel Sefstrom

Atomic number 


Standard atomic weight 


Crystal Structure 

Body centered cubic (bcc)

State at 20


Melting point 


Boiling point 

3407 ℃ 







Electronic configuration 

1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d3 4s2 or [Ar] 3d3 4s2 

Main properties 

Vanadium is good conductor of electricity and insulator to heat

Main use 

As a steel additive 



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