the common use of tantalum
Facts about Tantalum: Applications & Uses
Atomic Number: 73 Atomic Symbol: Ta Atomic Weight: 180.94788 Melting Point: 5,462.6 F (3,017 C) Boiling Point:9,856.4 F (5,458C)
Tantalum (Ta) is an unsung hero in modern metallurgy.
First discovered by the Swedish chemist Anders Ekeberg in 1802, this versatile metal has become essential to numerous industries over the years.
Raw tantalum rarely occurs in nature.
Instead, it is typically found in the ore columbite-tantalite (usually referred to as coltan).
Once extracted, pure tantalum is a hard blue-gray lustrous metal.
Since its discovery, tantalum has been used in a number of applications.
In the 21st century, it has become a crucial element in the electronics industry, with over 75% of electronics containing tantalum in some form.
In particular, engineers have been able to take advantage of some of the tantalum’s properties to make capacitors and other components smaller and more efficient.
Properties of Tantalum
Tantalum has several unique characteristics that have led to its increased use in the 21st century.
It is a highly stable metal that is almost immune to chemical degradation at temperatures lower than 302 °F (159 °C).
In addition, it exhibits high levels of corrosion resistance when it comes into contact with air and moisture.
Like most metals, tantalum forms a thin but dense protective oxide layer (Ta2O5) when exposed to the atmosphere.
This oxide layer firmly adheres to the surface of the metal, acting as a barrier that protects the underlying metal from further corrosion.
Tantalum belongs to a class of metals known as refractory metals, which are defined by their strong resistance to heat and wear.
It has a melting point of 5,463 °F (2,996 °C), the fourth-highest of all metals.
In terms of mechanical properties, tantalum is highly ductile, making it suitable for processes such as bending, stamping, and pressing.
When combined with other metals, it can produce alloys with enhanced strength and higher melting points.
Common Uses of Tantalum
Tantalum is generally used in applications that require increased heat, corrosion, and chemical resistance.
Below is a list of the commonly available forms of tantalum and their most common uses.
Sheet/Plate – Tantalum’s high melting point makes it ideal for high-temperature applications.
In sheet form, it is commonly used in linings for columns, vessels, tanks, heat exchangers, and vacuum furnace parts.
Thin sheets can also be used for anti-corrosion cladding, repairs, and reinforcement of existing
Rod/Wire – Tantalum is also known for its biocompatibility.
In other words, it is a nonirritating element that is not affected by bodily fluids.
This property makes tantalum wires a popular material for prosthetic implants and other medical devices.
In addition, tantalum wires are commonly used in vacuum furnace heating elements, chlorinator springs, light bulb elements, and chemical processing equipment.
Powder – In its powder form, tantalum is used to produce electrical circuits, capacitors, and resistors, primarily because its superior capacitance allows it to hold more charge per gram than other materials.
This has made it possible to develop smaller electrical parts and, by extension, smaller electrical devices.
Tube – Because of their heightened resistance to corrosion, tantalum tubes are often employed in the chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries for the processing of compounds that may weaken or destroy other metals.
Columns, stacks, and piping are just some of the products constructed from tantalum tubing in these industries.
Strips and foils – Similar to sheets, tantalum strips, and foils can be used as liners in vacuum furnaces and heat insulation applications.
Thin-gauge tantalum strips can also be deep drawn to manufacture crucibles, cups, and other inert laboratory equipment.
Tantalum Physical & General Properties
Tantalum is used in a variety of alloys to add high strength, ductility, and a high melting point.
When drawn into a fine wire, it’s used as a filament for evaporating metals such as aluminum.
More than half of tantalum’s use is for electrolytic capacitors and vacuum furnace parts.
The element is also used to make chemical process equipment, nuclear reactors, aircraft, and missile parts.
Tantalum has found use in making surgical appliances because it’s completely immune to body liquids.
Tantalum oxide is used to make special glass with a high index of refraction for items such as camera lenses.
Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-gray metal with a body-centered cubic crystalline structure.
Its chemical characteristics resemble those of niobium, the element above it in Group 5 of the periodic table.
Pure tantalum is extremely ductile and can be drawn into a very thin wire.
It is malleable and highly resistant to common acids and to corrosion at temperatures below about 150°C.
Tantalum is obtained chiefly from the mineral tantalite, although it also occurs in euxenite, samarskite, and some other rare minerals.
The major sources of tantalum ore are Australia, Brazil, and Canada.
Tantalum is almost always found in association with niobium;
separation of the two metals is difficult.
Major uses of tantalum include electrolytic capacitors, chemical equipment, and parts for vacuum furnaces, aircraft, and missiles.
Tantalum was used in the filaments of electric light bulbs and electronic tubes but has been largely replaced by tungsten for these uses.
It is often alloyed with other metals;
it imparts strength, ductility, corrosion resistance, and a high melting point.
Because it is unaffected by body fluids and causes no adverse tissue reactions, it is used in dental and surgical instruments and prostheses.
Useful tantalum compounds include the carbide TaC 2, an abrasive that is almost as hard as diamond;
and the oxide Ta2o5, used in making special highly refractive glass.
Tantalum (Ta) - Chemical properties, Health and ...
Tantalum is a shiny, silvery metal that is soft when is pure.
It is almost immune to chemical attack at temperatures below 150 C.
Tantalum is virtually resistant to corrosion due to an oxide film on its surface.
Applications: Tantalum finds use in four areas: high-temperature applications, such as aircraft engines;
electrical devices, such as capacitors;
surgical implants and handling corrosive chemicals.
It is rarely used as an alloying agent because it tends to make metals brittle.
Tantalum resists corrosion and is almost impervious to chemical attack, for this reason, it has been employed in the chemical industry, e.g.
for heat exchanger in boilers where strong acids are vaporized.
Tantalum in the environment
Because tantalum oxide is very insoluble, there is almost no tantalum to be found in natural waters.
Few attempts have been made to measure its level in soils, revealing a range from 0.1 to 3 ppm.
Only tiny amounts of tantalum are taken by plants: the amount in vegetation rarely exceeds 5 ppb.
The chief tantalum ores are tantalite, which also contains iron, manganese and niobium, and samarskite, which contains seven metals.
Another ore which contains tantalum and niobium is pyrochlore.
The main mining areas are Thailandia, Australia, Congo, Brazil, Portugal, and Canada.
The demand for tantalum is about 2300 tonnes a year.
No assessment of total reserves of extractable metal has been reliably calculated.
Health effects of tantalum
May be harmful by inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption.
It causes eye & skin irritation.
Material is irritating to mucous membranes & upper respiratory tract.
There are no reports of adverse health effects in industrially exposed workers.
Massive doses of tantalum given by the intratracheal route to rats have produced respiratory tract lesions.
In contact with tissue, metallic tantalum is inert.
Do not allow material to be released to the environment without proper governmental permits.
Isolate runoff of tantalum oxide to prevent environmental pollution.
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