• Molybdenum
  • Mines Producing Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a hard transition metal of a silvery white colour. It was discovered in 1778 but virtually ignored for the following 100 years. Other than finding use for it as a heating element for furnaces and as a supporting ingredient in tungsten light bulbs in 1906, it took the First World War to increase demand for the metal when it became used in the armour plating military vehicles, particularly tanks. It was also found to be a substitute for tungsten. The Second World War gave prominence to Molybdenum once again for its ability to strengthen iron and steel plating. Modern technology since the Second World War has significantly increased the demand for molybdenum.

Molybdenum is obtained from molybdenite, powellite and wulfenite ores which are usually present with the mining of tungsten and tin. It is also sourced as a by-product of mining and processing copper and tungsten.

The Uses of Molybdenum
Molybdenum has a high melting point which makes it useful in many of the following products;
- Electrodes in electrically heated glass making furnaces
- Aircraft and missile parts
- In the nuclear power industry
- A catalyst in the refining of petrol
- An alloy agent in steel making that requires ultra-high strength
- Allowing steel to withstand very high temperatures
- Use in the chemical industry when alloyed with nickel to make corrosion and heat resistant materials
- As a high temperature lubricant
- To facilitate enamels adhering to steel
- An essential trace element for all life forms

Molybdenum is not affected by Heat
Molybdenum can withstand very high temperatures without softening, expanding or changing shape, this makes it essential in the manufacturing of electrical contacts, filaments, industrial motors, aircraft parts and armour.

The future Will see Great Changes in the use of Molybdenum Disulphide
Molybdenum disulphide is widely used as a lubricant but the world in on the verge of it being used for vastly different purposes. Some laboratories are currently manufacturing it into large sheets that can be scaled up into practical use outside the laboratory. The material being produced is so thin it is completely transparent and it can be placed over any other type of material. One usage of this could be as a very large screen for television displays, or computer monitors of the future, where a separate transistor could control each pixel. This material, that is only one molecule in thickness, is far different from the highly purified silicon used in conventional transistors that are millions of atoms thick. A very large molybdenum disulphide screen would require an infinitesimal amount of raw material which equates to reduced cost, reduced weight and an improvement in energy efficiency. It could also be used as a light emitting device. Instead of obtaining light from one light bulb, a whole wall, or ceiling, could be the light source. The circuitry and the antenna of a mobile phone could be woven into fabric providing an improved signal reception and emission that would require less power. It could even be incorporated into clothing.

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