Rare metal Vanadium, key for batteries, discovered in India’s Gujarat

India seems to have hit a jackpot. After the discovery of lithium in Kashmir, ‘vanadium’, a rare metal has been discovered in Gujarat. Vanadium is a rare metal and key raw material for many industrial applications. The metal has been found in the sediment samples collected from Gulf of Khambhat, which opens into the Arabian Sea off Alang in Gujarat.

The new found metal is significant as it is scarce in India and possesses the capability to enhance the resilience of steel and titanium. The metal also has application in vanadium redox batteries to store energy efficiently.

Modern applications of vanadium include its use as vanadium secondary batteries for power plants
and rechargeable vanadium redox battery (VRB) for commercial applications. The main advantages of VRB are that it can offer almost unlimited capacity simply by using sequentially larger storage tanks; can be left completely discharged for long periods of time with no ill effects; can be recharged by replacing the electrolyte if no power source is available to charge it; and suffers no permanent damage if the electrolytes are accidentally mixed. The VRB has also been shown to have the least ecological impact of all energy storage technologies.

Earlier in February 2023, the Geological Survey of India (GSI), for the first time, found lithium deposits – 5.9 million tonnes in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu & Kashmir.

Meanwhile, in 2021, an exploration by Geological Survey of India (GSI) placed the eastern Himalayan State of Arunachal Pradesh, on the vanadium map of the country. As per GSI, the metal was recovered as a by-product from a slag that was collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores.

Although India is a significant consumer of Vanadium, it lacks behind in terms of producing the essential metal. According to Indian Bureau of Mines, the total estimated reserves of Vanadium in India is around 24.63 million tonnes. Of this, the estimated Vanadium Pentoxide is 64,594 tonnes.

The world production of vanadium in 2017 was 85,842 tonnes of metal content. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of vanadium, with Russia and South Africa rounding out the top three. Brazil alone is responsible for nearly one-quarter of the metal’s global export market, and the combined trio represents nearly 60 percent of the market. Meanwhile, China has the highest vanadium reserves in the world with 9.5 million MT as of 2022.

Vanadium is used primarily as an alloying element in Iron & Steel Industry and to some extent as a stabiliser in titanium and aluminium alloys which are used in aerospace applications. It imparts toughness and strength to steel, alloys and also acts as scavenger for oxygen. Vanadium also offers exceptional resistance to corrosion and elevated temperatures.

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