The application fields of niobium can basically be divided into the steel industry and non-steel industry. The former accounts for more than 85% of the world’s niobium consumption, while the latter accounts for less than 15%. In this article, let’s take a closer look at the application of niobium in the steel industry.
Niobium is one of the important alloying elements of steel. Adding a very small amount of niobium to the steel can greatly increase its strength, and improve its mechanical and welding properties, and corrosion resistance. The application of niobium steel is very extensive, covering many sectors such as bridges, construction, heavy machinery, ships, rails, automobiles, tractors, internal combustion engines, steam turbines, drilling equipment, large boilers, tools, and molds.
Low-alloy high-strength steel uses the largest amount of niobium, accounting for more than 80% of the niobium used in the steel industry, and generally contains 0.02-0.05% niobium. Adding a small amount of niobium to form stable carbides and carbonitrides to refine the crystal grains and the precipitation of niobium carbide can improve the strength and creep resistance of the steel.
In addition to niobium-containing low-alloy steels, there are also niobium-containing high-alloy steels. The additives of high alloy steel containing niobium are generally metal niobium bars or ferroniobium with 50-70% niobium. Niobium-containing high-alloy steel includes stainless steel, heat-resistant steel, and corrosion-resistant steel. For example, lCrllCobMnVNbBN steel has been used in the 8-11 stage turbine discs and 9-12 stage blades of aero engines; OCr13si4NbRE steel is resistant to corrosion by oxidizing media and has been used in the valves and pump bodies of concentrated nitric acid production equipment. The use of niobium-containing stainless steel electrodes has been expanding in recent years.
Adding a small amount of niobium to cast iron can promote graphitization, reduce casting cracks and improve the wear resistance of castings, and significantly improve the toughness and strength of iron. Cylinder liners and piston rings made of niobium-containing cast iron (containing about 0.3% Nb) can improve their wear resistance and service life.
Thank you for reading our article and we hope it can help you to have a better understanding of the application of niobium in the steel industry. If you want to learn more about niobium and other types of refractory metals, we would like to advise you to visit Advanced Refractory Metals (ARM) for more information.
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