Chem Explorers

Mighty Molybdenum: From Steel to Supplements

Introduction to Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a chemical element that is widely used in various industries and applications. It is a silvery-white metal that has the atomic symbol Mo and atomic number 42.

In this article, we will explore the natural occurrence of molybdenum, its sources, and the history of its discovery. We will also delve into the properties and characteristics of molybdenum, including its general and chemical properties as well as its atomic data.

Natural Occurrence and Isotopes

Molybdenum is a relatively abundant element in the earth’s crust, ranking 25th in terms of abundance. It is found in various minerals, the most common of which is molybdenite (MoS2).

Other minerals that contain molybdenum include wulfenite (PbMoO4), powellite (CaMoO4), and ferrimolybdite (Fe2MoO4). Molybdenum also occurs in small amounts in minerals such as tungstenite (WS2) and copper sulfides.

There are seven naturally occurring isotopes of molybdenum, the most stable being molybdenum-98, which accounts for almost 25% of all molybdenum in nature. The other isotopes are molybdenum-92, 94, 95, 96, 97, and 100.

Sources of Molybdenum

The primary source of molybdenum is molybdenite, a mineral that is usually found in large deposits associated with porphyry copper deposits. These deposits are distributed globally, with the largest reserves located in the United States and Canada.

Other minerals that contain molybdenum are also mined for their molybdenum content, such as powellite and wulfenite. Molybdenum is also produced as a by-product of other metals such as copper, lead, and zinc.

When these metals are refined, molybdenum is extracted from the by-products. China is the world’s largest producer of molybdenum, followed by the United States, Chile, and Peru.

History of Discovery

Molybdenum was first discovered in 1778 by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who named it molybdos. However, it was not until 1782 that Swedish scientist Peter Jacob Hjelm was able to isolate molybdenum from its oxide by reducing it with carbon.

In the early 20th century, molybdenum became an important element in the steel industry due to its ability to increase the strength and corrosion resistance of steel alloys.

Properties and Characteristics of Molybdenum

General Properties

Molybdenum has an atomic mass of 95.94 u and a density of 10.28 g/cm3. At room temperature, it is a solid metal that has a melting point of 2,623 C and a boiling point of 4,639 C.

Molybdenum is a hard metal, ranking 5.5-6.0 on the Mohs hardness scale, and is highly resistant to corrosion and oxidation at high temperatures. Molybdenum is also a good conductor of electricity and heat, making it useful in electrical and thermal applications.

It has a high thermal conductivity of 138 W/mK and a high electrical conductivity of 19.3 106 S/m.

Chemical Properties

Molybdenum has six oxidation states, ranging from -2 to +6, with the most common being +4, +5, and +6. It also has multiple isotopes, with molybdenum-98 being the most abundant.

The electron configuration of molybdenum is [Kr] 4d5 5s1, and it has a total of 42 electrons.

Atomic Data

The quantum numbers of molybdenum are n=4, l=2, m=0, and s=1/2. Its electronegativity value is 2.16, indicating that it is a moderately reactive element.

Molybdenum also has a relatively high ionization energy, with the first ionization energy being 684.3 kJ/mol and the second ionization energy being 1610 kJ/mol.

Conclusion

In conclusion, molybdenum is an important chemical element that has an abundance of applications in various industries. Its natural occurrence is mainly in minerals such as molybdenite, while its sources of production are from by-products of other metals such as copper.

Molybdenum was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele and isolated by Peter Jacob Hjelm in the 18th century. The metal exhibits remarkable properties, including a high melting and boiling point, high resistance to corrosion, and excellent electrical and thermal conductivity.

Molybdenum is an essential element in the steel industry and is also used in other industries such as aerospace, electronics, and energy.

3) Uses of Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a crucial element with a plethora of applications in various industries. Some of its uses in industry are listed below:

Alloys: Molybdenum is used to create alloys because of its high melting point, high strength, resistance to corrosion, and excellent weldability.

Molybdenum alloys are used in the production of aircraft and missile parts, rocket and missile motors, and in the construction of nuclear reactors. Heat Tubes: Molybdenum is used as a material for heat tubes in high-temperature furnaces due to its high melting point and excellent thermal conductivity.

Lubricants: Molybdenum disulfide is used as a solid lubricant in automobile engines, aircraft turbines, and industrial machinery. It provides superior lubrication under high pressure and temperature conditions.

Catalysts: Molybdenum is used as a catalyst in the chemical industry to promote various chemical reactions, such as hydrogenation, sulfonation, and oxidation. Biological Role in Plants, Animals, and Humans

Molybdenum plays an essential role in the biological processes of plants, animals, and humans.

In plants, molybdenum serves as an essential nutrient for nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use. Without molybdenum, plants cannot produce enough chlorophyll, leading to stunted growth.

In animals and humans, molybdenum is used to synthesize multiple enzymes that are involved in various metabolic processes. These enzymes include xanthine oxidase, sulfite oxidase, and aldehyde oxidase.

Molybdenum is also necessary for the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids and the detoxification of certain drugs and toxins.

Role in Scientific Research

Molybdenum has played an important role in scientific research, particularly in the study of ancient oceanic chemistry and the estimation of oxygen levels. Molybdenum is used as an indicator of ancient oceanic chemistry because it is insoluble in seawater and will only accumulate in sediments when conditions are favorable.

The ratio of molybdenum isotopes in sedimentary rocks can be used to determine changes in ocean chemistry over long periods. Molybdenum is also used to estimate oxygen levels in Earth’s early atmosphere.

The ratio of molybdenum to uranium in ancient rocks is used to estimate the oxygen content of Earth’s atmosphere because the oxidation state of molybdenum is sensitive to the availability of oxygen.

4) Molybdenum Toxicity

Although molybdenum is an essential micronutrient, high levels of molybdenum can be toxic to both plants and animals, particularly to those that are deficient in copper. Molybdenum toxicity in animals and humans can result from chronic exposure to high levels of molybdenum through food or environmental sources.

Some of the effects of high levels of molybdenum are:

Copper Deficiency: High levels of molybdenum can interfere with the absorption, storage, and utilization of copper, leading to copper deficiency. Copper is essential for several biological processes, including the formation of connective tissue, the production of red blood cells, and the functioning of certain enzymes.

Symptoms of Exposure: Chronic exposure to high levels of molybdenum can lead to a range of symptoms in animals and humans, including diarrhea, poor growth or weight loss, anemia, joint pain, and gout. In severe cases, it can also lead to neurological symptoms such as seizures and coma.

Safety Limits: The permissible exposure limit for molybdenum compounds in the workplace is set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 5 mg/m3 as an eight-hour time-weighted average. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sets the immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) level for molybdenum compounds at 500 mg/m3.

In conclusion, molybdenum is a valuable element with various industrial, biological, and scientific applications. However, high levels of molybdenum can be toxic to both plants and animals, particularly to those that are deficient in copper.

Understanding the potential toxicity of molybdenum is essential to prevent adverse health effects.

5) Interesting Facts about Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a unique element with interesting properties, a remarkable historical significance, and a current role in the supplement industry. Below are some fascinating facts about molybdenum.

Properties of Molybdenum

One of the most interesting properties of molybdenum is its non-reactivity with water and oxygen. Molybdenum is incredibly resistant to corrosion, making it suitable for use in applications where it is exposed to harsh environments.

In addition, molybdenum has a high solubility in alkaline water, making it easier to extract from ores.

Historical Significance of Molybdenum

Molybdenum has played a significant role in history. During World War I, molybdenum was used in the construction of Big Bertha, a massive artillery gun that was used to attack France.

The molybdenum steel used in the gun barrel provided high strength and resistance to heat, allowing it to withstand the stresses of firing. Molybdenum also has a unique graphical representation.

In the periodic table, molybdenum is represented by the symbol Mo and is located in Group 6. It has an atomic number of 42, and its electronic configuration is [Kr] 4d5 5s1.

Current Use and Availability of Molybdenum

Today, molybdenum has continued to be a valuable element, with numerous applications in various industries. One current use of molybdenum is in supplements.

Molybdenum is an essential micronutrient that plays a vital role in the body’s metabolism of certain amino acids. Molybdenum supplements are available for individuals who do not get enough of this element through their diet.

Molybdenum is a relatively rare element, with an estimated abundance in the earth’s crust of about 1.5 parts per million. The largest producers of molybdenum are China, the United States, Chile, and Peru.

The price of molybdenum varies, but it is generally regarded as an expensive element due to its rarity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, molybdenum is an element with unique properties, a rich historical significance, and a current role in the supplement industry. Its non-reactivity with water and oxygen, solubility in alkaline water, and high abundance in the earth’s crust make it a valuable element for a wide range of applications.

Molybdenum’s use in Big Bertha and its graphical representation in the periodic table reflect its important role in history and science. Finally, molybdenum supplements are available for individuals who may not get enough of this essential micronutrient through their diet.

In conclusion, molybdenum is a versatile element with a wide range of applications in industries such as steel production, aerospace, and chemical manufacturing. Its unique properties, including non-reactivity with water and oxygen, make it highly valuable.

The historical significance of molybdenum in the construction of Big Bertha showcases its strength and durability. Additionally, molybdenum’s role as an essential micronutrient in the form of supplements highlights its importance in human health.

Overall, molybdenum is a crucial element that has left a significant impact on history and continues to play a vital role in various industries and biological processes. FAQs:

1.

What are the main uses of molybdenum? – Molybdenum is used in industries such as steel production, aerospace, and chemical manufacturing for its strength, resistance to corrosion, and high melting point.

2. Is molybdenum toxic?

– High levels of molybdenum can be toxic, particularly for individuals with copper deficiency. It is important to monitor and maintain proper levels of molybdenum in the body.

3. How is molybdenum obtained?

– Molybdenum is primarily obtained from molybdenite, a mineral that is commonly found associated with porphyry copper deposits. 4.

Can molybdenum be used as a supplement? – Yes, molybdenum supplements are available for individuals who need to increase their intake of this essential micronutrient.

5. Where is molybdenum primarily produced?

– The largest producers of molybdenum are China, the United States, Chile, and Peru. Final Thought: Amidst its rich history and diverse applications, molybdenum continues to fascinate us with its unique properties and vital contributions to various industries, making it an element of great importance for both human progress and health.

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