Molybdenum Metal Benefits – Dale Engineering
Molybdenum is a transition metal which is providing a practical alternative to more familiar traditional metals. The low thermal expansion of molybdenum, similar to that of silicon, makes it a frequently used material in the electronics industry for semiconductor supports and glass sealing. Due to its excellent thermal conductivity and low resistivity, molybdenum is also used widely in the furnace industry for radiation screens, elements and sintering trays. Molybdenum has good corrosion resistance particularly to hydrochloric acid. Unlike tantalum, niobium, titanium and zirconium; molybdenum is not subject to hydrogen embrittlement. With all this in mind, Molybdenum is the metal of choice for Dale Engineering and its customers.
Molybdenum does not occur naturally as a free metal on Earth; it is found only in various oxidation states in minerals. The free element, a silvery metal with a gray cast, has the sixth-highest melting point of any element. It readily forms hard, stable carbides in alloys, and for this reason most of world production of the element (about 80%) is used in steel alloys, including high-strength alloys and superalloys.
Most molybdenum compounds have low solubility in water, but when molybdenum-bearing minerals contact oxygen and water, the resulting molybdate ion MoO2−4 is quite soluble. Industrially, molybdenum compounds (about 14% of world production of the element) are used in high-pressure and high-temperature applications as pigments and catalysts.
Molybdenum Physical Properties
In its pure form, molybdenum is a silvery-grey metal with a Mohs hardness of 5.5, and a standard atomic weight of 95.95 g/mol. It has a melting point of 2,623 °C (4,753 °F); of the naturally occurring elements, only tantalum, osmium, rhenium, tungsten, and carbon have higher melting points. It has one of the lowest coefficients of thermal expansion among commercially used metals.
A plate of molybdenum copper alloy
About 86% of molybdenum produced is used in metallurgy, with the rest used in chemical applications. The estimated global use is structural steel 35%, stainless steel 25%, chemicals 14%, tool & high-speed steels 9%, cast iron 6%, molybdenum elemental metal 6%, and superalloys 5%.
Molybdenum can withstand extreme temperatures without significantly expanding or softening, making it useful in environments of intense heat, including military armor, aircraft parts, electrical contacts, industrial motors, and filaments.
Most high-strength steel alloys (for example, 41xx steels) contain 0.25% to 8% molybdenum. Even in these small portions, more than 43,000 tonnes of molybdenum are used each year in stainless steels, tool steels, cast irons, and high-temperature superalloys.
Molybdenum is also valued in steel alloys for its high corrosion resistance and weldability. Molybdenum contributes corrosion resistance to type-300 stainless steels (specifically type-316) and especially so in the so-called superaustenitic stainless steels (such as alloy AL-6XN, 254SMO and 1925hMo). Molybdenum increases lattice strain, thus increasing the energy required to dissolve iron atoms from the surface.
Because of its lower density and more stable price, molybdenum is sometimes used in place of tungsten. An example is the ‘M’ series of high-speed steels such as M2, M4 and M42 as substitution for the ‘T’ steel series, which contain tungsten. Molybdenum can also be used as a flame-resistant coating for other metals. Although its melting point is 2,623 °C (4,753 °F), molybdenum rapidly oxidizes at temperatures above 760 °C (1,400 °F) making it better-suited for use in vacuum environments.