Category Archive: Blogs

When To Consider Using Tungsten Heavy Alloys

Tungsten heavy alloys (WHAs) are often used instead of pure tungsten because they have a significantly higher density and improved mechanical properties. Pure tungsten is relatively brittle and has a low density compared to other metals, which makes it difficult to work with and limits its applications.

WHAs are made by alloying tungsten with other metals, such as nickel, iron, and cobalt, which increases its ductility, toughness, and strength. The added metals also increase the density, which makes it ideal for applications where high density and weight are required.

Tungsten alloys are primarily used in aerospace, military, and medical applications, as well as in sports equipment and industrial machinery. They are often used to make counterweights, radiation shielding, and other high-density components. They also have potential use in the field of nuclear medicine and radiation therapy as a radiation shield or in brachytherapy as sources.

There are several types of tungsten heavy alloys which Admat supplies, each with unique properties and uses. Some examples include:

  • W-Ni-Fe: This is the most common type of tungsten heavy alloy and is composed of tungsten, nickel, and iron. It has a high density and is used for applications such as radiation shielding and balancing weights.
  • W-Ni-Cu: This alloy has a higher thermal conductivity than W-Ni-Fe and is used in applications that require good thermal conductivity such as heat exchangers and electrical contacts.
  • W-Ni-Mo: This alloy has excellent wear resistance and is used in applications that require wear resistance such as bearings and seal rings.

It’s important to note that the composition and properties of tungsten heavy alloys can be tailored to specific application needs by adjusting the ratio of the elements that are present.

In summary, Tungsten heavy alloys are used instead of pure tungsten because they have a higher density, improved mechanical properties and increased ductility, toughness, and strength.

Tantalum and Niobium: Similarities and Differences

Tantalum and niobium are two chemical elements that belong to the group of transition metals in the periodic table. They have many similarities in their physical and chemical properties, but also some notable differences. Here we will compare and contrast these two elements and explore their applications and uses.

99.95% fine tantalum isolated on white background


Tantalum and niobium are both soft, ductile, and lustrous metals with high melting and boiling points. They are also highly resistant to corrosion by acids and have good thermal and electrical conductivity. They have similar atomic structures, with only one electron difference in their outermost shells. They are often found together in nature, in minerals such as columbite, tantalite, pyrochlore, and loparite. They are also difficult to separate from each other due to their similar chemical behavior.

Both elements have a wide range of applications in various industries. They are used as additives or alloys in steels and superalloys to improve their strength, toughness, ductility, and resistance to high temperatures and corrosion. They are also used in capacitors, which are electronic components that store electric charge and energy. Tantalum capacitors have a high capacitance per volume and are widely used in portable devices, computers, and automotive electronics. Niobium capacitors have a lower capacitance but a higher voltage rating and are used in power supplies and converters.

Both elements also have some specialized uses that exploit their unique properties. For example, niobium-tin alloys are used as superconducting magnets for medical imaging devices, particle accelerators, and fusion reactors. Tantalum pentoxide is used as a coating material for glass lenses with a high refractive index, which enhances their optical performance.

99.95% fine niobium isolated on white background


Despite their similarities, tantalum and niobium also have some significant differences in their physical and chemical properties. For instance, tantalum is much denser than niobium, with a density of 16.65 g/cm3 compared to 8.57 g/cm3 for niobium. Tantalum also has a higher melting point (2996 °C) and boiling point (5425 °C) than niobium (2477 °C and 4744 °C respectively). Tantalum is slightly harder than niobium, with a Mohs hardness of 6.5 versus 6 for niobium.

Another difference between the two elements is their availability and price. Tantalum is much rarer than niobium, with an estimated crustal abundance of 2 ppm versus 20 ppm for niobium. Tantalum is also more expensive than niobium, with raw ore prices sometimes reaching ten times the price per pound of niobium ore. The supply of tantalum is also more volatile than that of niobium, due to political instability and environmental issues in some of the major producing countries such as Congo, Rwanda, Brazil, and Australia.  It’s important to note that responsible tantalum suppliers such as Admat do not supply metals that originated in conflict areas such as the Congo unless the raw materials meets the stringent conditions determined by the RMI (Responsible Minerals Initiative) and the RMAP (Responsible Minerals Assurance Process).  This program ensures responsible sourcing of ore in high risk and conflict areas and supports local economies.

Tantalum and niobium are two remarkable elements that share many similarities but also have some distinct differences. They have a wide range of applications in various fields such as metallurgy, electronics, optics, medicine, and science. They are both valuable resources that contribute to the advancement of technology and human welfare.

Breaking Down the Best: Tantalum, Niobium, Tungsten, and Molybdenum Compared

Tantalum, niobium, tungsten, and molybdenum are all refractory metals, which means they have high melting points and are highly resistant to corrosion and wear. However, they have different physical properties that make them more suitable for certain applications.


Comparison of refractory metal’s properties:

Density: Tungsten has the highest density of the four metals, at 19.3 g/cm³, followed by tantalum (16.6 g/cm³), niobium (8.57 g/cm³), and molybdenum (10.2 g/cm³).

Melting Point: Tungsten has the highest melting point of the four metals, at 3,422 °C, followed by tantalum (3,020 °C), molybdenum (2,623 °C), and niobium (2,468 °C).

Machinability: Niobium is the easiest to machine of the four metals, followed by tantalum, molybdenum, and tungsten. Tungsten, in particular, is very difficult to machine due to its high hardness and brittleness. Tungsten Heavy Alloywould be an alternative with improved machinability.

Corrosion Resistance: Tantalum has excellent corrosion resistance, especially in acidic environments, making it well-suited for chemical processing and medical implants. Niobium is also highly corrosion resistant, while tungsten and molybdenum are more prone to corrosion.

Price: Tantalum is the most expensive of the four metals, followed by niobium, tungsten and molybdenum.

Thermal Conductivity: Tungsten has the highest thermal conductivity of the four metals, followed by molybdenum, tantalum, and niobium. This property can be important for heat management in some applications.

Ductility: Niobium and tantalum are both highly ductile, which means they can be drawn into wires or formed into various shapes without breaking. Tungsten and molybdenum are less ductile, but they have excellent resistance to bending and stretching.

Electrical Conductivity: Tungsten and molybdenum have lower electrical conductivity than tantalum and niobium. This can be important for applications where electrical resistance is required, such as heating elements.

Appearance: Niobium has a unique surface coloration when anodized, and it can be anodized to produce a wide range of colors. This makes it popular for use in jewelry and other decorative applications.

Environmental Impact: Tungsten and molybdenum are both more abundant than tantalum and niobium, and they are often mined from countries with fewer environmental regulations. This can make them a more environmentally friendly choice for some applications.


When choosing a material for a specific application, the following factors should be considered:

  • Operating environment: The operating temperature and chemical environment will determine the level of corrosion resistance required.
  • Mechanical properties: The required strength and toughness of the material should be considered.
  • Machinability: If the part requires machining, the ease of machining should be considered.
  • Cost: The cost of the material should be balanced against its suitability for the application.


Applications where each of these metals is commonly used:

  • Tantalum: Chemical processing, medical implants, and electronic components.
  • Niobium: Aerospace components, superconductors, and medical implants.
  • Tungsten: Electrical contacts, welding electrodes, and radiation shielding.
  • Molybdenum: Aerospace components, heating elements, and glass melting electrodes.
Admat’s Refractory Metals Max Temp in Open Air w/ Limited Oxidation Risk
Metal Maximum Temperature in Air
Tantalum 500-800°C
Niobium* Up to XXX °C
Tungsten Up to 400°C
Molybdenum Up to 500°C

*As an alternative to niobium, Admat’s Niobium Hafnium Titanium (C-103) has a much higher operating temperature in open air.

Note: These temperatures are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as the purity of the material, the surface condition, and the environment in which it is being used. It’s important to consult with a materials engineer or other expert to determine the most appropriate materials and operating conditions for a given application.

Overall the choice of material depends on the specific requirements of the application. Tantalum and niobium are good choices for applications that require high corrosion resistance, while tungsten and molybdenum are better suited for applications that require high strength, high melting point, or electrical resistance.

The Tantalum Authority:   Why Admat Became Known As the Tantalum Experts

Admat Inc. is a company that specializes in the sourcing, processing, fabrication, and supply of refractory metals, including tantalum. Some factors that contribute to their expertise in the tantalum industry include:

  1. Experience: Admat Inc. has been in the business of supplying refractory metals for over 25 years and has developed extensive experience in working with tantalum and other similar materials. Over the years, they have developed relationships with various suppliers and customers, and have accumulated knowledge and expertise on the processing, handling, and supply of tantalum.
  2. Technical expertise: Admat Inc. has a team of highly skilled professionals who are experts in the field of refractory metals. They possess technical knowledge and expertise in areas such as metallurgy, engineering, and materials science, which allows them to provide technical support and guidance to their customers on the use and handling of tantalum.
  3. Quality assurance: Admat Inc. has a strong commitment to quality and maintains a strict quality control system to ensure that their products meet the highest standards. They work closely with suppliers to ensure that the tantalum they supply is of the highest quality and meets the required specifications.
  4. Range of products: Admat Inc. offers a wide range of tantalum products, including sheets, rods, wires, and tubes, which allows them to serve a diverse range of customers and applications. They also offer custom fabrication services, which enables them to provide tailored solutions to meet specific customer requirements.
  5. Ethical and sustainable sourcing: Admat Inc. is committed to ethical and sustainable sourcing of tantalum and other metals. They work with suppliers who follow responsible mining practices and support efforts to eliminate conflict minerals and promote human rights.
  6. Customer service: Admat Inc. is known for its “in-house “customer service and responsiveness. They have a team of sales and technical professionals who are dedicated to providing personalized support and assistance to their customers, from initial inquiry to after-sales support.
  7. Manufacturing capabilities: Admat Inc. has a range of manufacturing capabilities that allow them to process and fabricate tantalum and other metals according to customer specifications. This includes precision cutting, forming, welding, and other custom fabrication services both at their material factories and using third party machine and fabrication centers who are extensively experienced with tantalum.
  8. Industry partnerships: Admat Inc. has established partnerships and collaborations with other companies and organizations in the tantalum industry. These collaborations allow them to stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments and technologies, and to share knowledge and expertise with other experts in the field.

These are just a few examples of why Admat Inc. is recognized as an expert in the tantalum industry. Their reputation is based on a combination of experience, technical knowledge, quality assurance, customer service, and a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.


Why Tantalum Capacitors Are Essential in Modern Electronics

Tantalum capacitors were first invented in the early 20th century by a Polish engineer named Wawrzyniec Lewicki. He discovered that tantalum oxide was an excellent dielectric material, meaning it could hold an electric charge without conducting electricity. This property made it possible to create tantalum capacitors, which were significantly smaller and more reliable than existing capacitors at the time.

The first type of tantalum capacitor to be developed was the solid tantalum capacitor, which became widely used in the electronics industry in the 1950s. These capacitors are constructed with tantalum powder, which is pressed into a pellet shape and coated with a thin layer of tantalum oxide. The pellet is then mounted on a lead frame and encapsulated in an epoxy resin. Solid tantalum capacitors are known for their small size, high capacitance, and stability at high temperatures, making them ideal for use in portable electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and digital cameras.

Another type of tantalum capacitor is the wet tantalum capacitor, which was developed in the 1950s for use in military and aerospace applications. Wet tantalum capacitors are constructed with a tantalum metal case, which is filled with a conductive electrolyte and a tantalum powder anode. The electrolyte is typically a solution of sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid, which provides high conductivity and low impedance. The tantalum powder anode is covered with a thin layer of tantalum pentoxide, which acts as a dielectric layer. The construction of wet tantalum capacitors makes them ideal for use in harsh environmental conditions, where their high reliability and long-life span are critical. Wet tantalum capacitors are used in a wide range of applications, including avionics, defense, and oil drilling equipment.

capacitorIn addition to solid and wet tantalum capacitors, there is another type of tantalum capacitor called tantalum hybrid capacitors. Tantalum hybrid capacitors combinethe best features of tantalum and electrolytic capacitors to create a high-performance capacitor with low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) and high capacitance.

Tantalum hybrid capacitors are constructed with a tantalum powder anode and an aluminum electrolytic cathode, separated by a paper or polymer dielectric layer. The combination of tantalum and electrolytic materials allows tantalum hybrid capacitors to achieve high capacitance and low ESR, making them ideal for use in power supplies, motor drives, and other high-frequency applications.

Tantalum hybrid capacitors are also known for their high ripple current handling capabilities and their ability to operate at high temperatures. This makes them a popular choice for industrial and automotive applications, where reliability and performance are critical.

In conclusion, tantalum capacitors have become an essential component in many electronic devices, from consumer electronics to aerospace and defense applications. Their small size, high capacitance, and stability at high temperatures and under harsh environmental conditions make them ideal for a wide range of applications. As a supplier of tantalum metal in powder, sheet, and wire forms, Admat is one of the leading providers of high-quality tantalum materials used in the production of tantalum capacitors. Their commitment to quality and innovation has enabled them to supply the electronic industry with the high-grade tantalum materials necessary to meet the growing demand for smaller and more efficient capacitors. With the continued evolution of technology, the role of tantalum capacitors is likely to become even more important in the future.



Slip-Sliding Away: The Top Lubricants for Tantalum Stamping, Drawing, and Machining.

Lubricants for Stamping, Drawing, and Machining Tantalum:

Tantalum is a dense and hard metal that is used in a variety of applications, including electronic components, medical devices, and aerospace equipment. When stamping, drawing, or machining tantalum, it’s important to use the right lubricant to reduce friction, heat, and tool wear. In this article, we will explore the best lubricants for stamping, drawing, and machining tantalum.

Synthetic Oils

Synthetic oils, such as polyalphaolefins (PAOs) or ester-based lubricants, are commonly used in stamping, drawing, and machining operations due to their high lubricity and thermal stability. These lubricants are formulated to provide long-lasting lubrication and protection against wear and tear, making them ideal for use in demanding applications.

Water-Soluble Coolants

Water-soluble coolants, such as emulsions or soluble oils, can be used to provide cooling and lubrication during stamping, drawing, and machining operations. They are typically used when high speeds or fine surface finishes are required. Water-soluble coolants are easy to apply and are known for their ability to maintain their lubricating properties even under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions.


Pastes and gels, such as graphite or molybdenum disulfide-based products, can be used for stamping, drawing, and machining operations where a high degree of lubrication is required. These lubricants are typically applied as a thick paste or gel, which provides a long-lasting and effective barrier against friction and wear.


Greases, such as lithium or sodium-based products, can be used in stamping, drawing, and machining operations where a low-viscosity lubricant is required. Greases are easy to apply and can provide long-lasting lubrication, making them ideal for use in high-speed or high-temperature applications.

Halocarbon Lubricants

Halocarbon lubricants, such as perfluoroether (PFE) or perfluoropolyether (PFPE) lubricants, are among the best lubricants for stamping, drawing, and machining tantalum. These lubricants are known for their high thermal stability, low volatility, and high lubricity, making them well-suited for use in high-temperature and high-pressure environments.

Halocarbon lubricants can maintain their lubricating properties at high temperatures, which makes them ideal for use in stamping, drawing, and machining operations that generate significant heat. Additionally, these lubricants have low volatility, meaning they do not easily evaporate or break down, which can extend the life of the lubricant and reduce the need for frequent reapplication.

However, halocarbon lubricants are typically more expensive than other types of lubricants and may also have a higher environmental impact, as they are not biodegradable and can persist in the environment for long periods of time.


Halocarbon lubricants are the best performing lubricants for stamping, drawing, and machining tantalum, due to their high thermal stability, low volatility, and high lubricity. However, it’s important to consider the specific requirements of your operation and to consult with a lubricant specialist to determine the best lubricant for your specific application. Whether you are using synthetic oils, water-soluble coolants, pastes, greases, or halocarbon lubricants, it’s crucial to use the right lubricant to reduce friction, heat, and tool wear during your stamping, drawing, and machining operations.


“The Future is Bright: The Growing Demand for Tantalum Across Industries”

Tantalum is a metal with properties that make it highly desirable across several industries due to its unique properties and performance advantages. Admat is an ideal partner for supplying tantalum to these industries, offering high-quality products, competitive prices, and exceptional customer service. Regardless of the industry, Admat has the expertise and resources to meet your tantalum needs.

Chemical Processing: Tantalum is utilized in the production of chemicals and catalysts due to its corrosion-resistant nature. The demand for tantalum in this sector is expected to grow as companies adopt new technologies and process advancements.

Semiconductor: Tantalum serves as a gate electrode material in transistors, making it a critical component in the semiconductor industry. The demand for tantalum in this market is driven by the growth of the electronics market.

Capacitor: Tantalum capacitors are widely used in consumer electronics, automotive electronics, and military electronics. The demand for tantalum in the capacitor market is rising due to the demand for high-performance electronic components.

Medical: Tantalum is utilized in dental implants and surgical instruments due to its high strength and durability. The demand for tantalum in the medical industry is increasing as the demand for high-quality medical products and advanced medical treatments rises.

Energy: Tantalum’s ability to resist corrosion in high-temperature environments makes it a valuable component in the energy sector. The demand for tantalum in this market is driven by the increasing demand for renewable energy and advanced materials in energy production and distribution.

Defense: Tantalum’s strength and durability make it suitable for use in high-stress defense applications, such as weapons systems and aircraft components. The demand for tantalum in the defense industry is rising as the demand for advanced materials in defense applications grows.

Additive Manufacturing: Tantalum’s ability to produce high-quality, intricate parts with high accuracy makes it a valuable component in the additive manufacturing sector. The demand for tantalum in this market is driven by the increasing demand for advanced manufacturing technologies.

Facts About Niobium: Production, Properties, Applications, and Availability

Niobium – the 41st element on the periodic table– is a soft, grey, crystalline metal used in a variety of applications from steel production to hypoallergenic jewelry. The metal was originally discovered by British chemist Charles Hatchett in 1801 as he examined American minerals from a collection in the British Museum. Hatchett named this element columbium, after Christopher Columbus.  Through the years most people now refer to this element as Niobium.  As tantalum and niobium are often found together and for many years were indistinguishable from each other, the name niobium comes from Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus from ancient Greek mythology.


Niobium mineral can be found in niobite, euxenite, pyrochlore, and niobite-tantalite. In pyrochlore niobium is often associated with carbonates. Vast deposits of niobium-rich minerals can be found in Russia, Nigeria, Zaire, Canada, along with the leading producer, Brazil.  Annual production is over 50,000 tons of oxide.

Pure niobium is extracted from the mineral by digesting with hydrofluoric acid.  The niobium aqueous solution is separated from other compounds by liquid-liquid extraction.  The purified niobium is then precipitated from the aqueous solution as niobium hydroxide by an alkaline solution such as ammonia.  After calcining the hydroxide is turned into niobium penta-oxide (pentoxide, Nb2O5).  The niobium oxide can be converted to the metal form by aluminum thermite reduction.  The metal is often further purified in an electron beam (EB) furnace to yield niobium ingots.  Mill processes turn the ingot to plate, sheet, tube, and wire.  Superconductor grade niobium (RRR 300) has very low impurities, especially gases, and can be made by repeatedly refining the metal in a high vacuum EB furnace.


Niobium is a lustrous, ductile metal.  It features a high melting point (2,477° C), lower density than similar refractory metals, high corrosion resistance (but lower than tantalum), and good cold working properties.

Following is a summary of its properties:

  • Element Category — Transition Metals
  • Phase — Solid
  • Symbol — Nb
  • Number — 41
  • Density — 8.57 grams per cubic centimeter
  • STD Atomic Weight — 92.90638(2) g/mol
  • Crystal Structure — Body Centered Cubic
  • Melting Temperature — 2750 K, 2477° C, 4491° F
  • Boiling Point — 5017 K, 4744° C, 8571° F
  • Electrical Resistivity — (0 °C) 152 nΩ·m
  • Thermal Conductivity — (300 K) 53.7 W·m−1·K−1
  • Thermal Expansion — 7.3 µm/(m·K)


Industrial uses for niobium stretch as far back as the early 1900s, and more benefits are being discovered and applied for this valuable element as time goes on.

Niobium is most commonly used to create alloys.  Even with as little as 0.01% niobium, the strength of steel is markedly improved.  These alloys are often found in oil and gas facilities and pipelines.  Niobium superalloys, such as nickel niobium, have a demonstrable ability to maintain stability, making them highly desirable in rockets and jet engines as well as land-based turbines in power plants.

Niobium titanium alloys are superconductive under certain low temperature range.  These alloys are used to create superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners.

Further uses for niobium alloys include:

  • Arc-welding rods for stabilized grades of stainless steel
  • Nuclear reactor control rod due to its high temperature and corrosion resistance, and low neutron absorption at cross-section
  • Crucibles for synthetic diamond manufacturing
  • Sodium vapor lamb, and LCD back lighting
  • Jewelry: brilliant colors can be created on niobium surface
  • Superconductor, supercollider and particle accelerator using ultra-high purity metals and alloys
  • Optical coating and camera lens
  • Lithium niobite for wave guide in communications
  • Thin film solar cell

Product Availability

Admat offers a range line of pure, alloy, and oxide niobium products including:

Pure Niobium 

  • Commercial grade
  • Reactor grade
  • Superconductor grade (RRR300)

Niobium Alloys 

  • Niobium 1% Zirconium
  • Niobium 47% Titanium
  • Niobium 50% Titanium
  • Niobium 55% Titanium
  • Niobium 10% hafnium 1% titanium

Metal and alloy forms 

  • Flat: plate, sheet, foil, strip
  • Round: rod, wire
  • Tube
  • Billet
  • Sputtering target – flat or tube/pipe

Niobium oxides 

  • Ceramic grade
  • Optical grade
  • Crystal grade


If you’re interested in discussing how niobium can be used for your application, please feel free to contact our team of experts directly.

Why Should I Use Tantalum in Corrosive Environments?

Refractory metals are metallic elements that exhibit properties that make them more durable than other metals. For example, they can demonstrate corrosion resistance, thermal and electrical conductivity, and deformation resistance. These characteristics make them ideal for use in highly demanding applications and environments. One example of refractory metals is tantalum, which is prized for its excellent resistance to corrosion. 

What Is Tantalum?

Tantalum is among the most corrosion-resistant of the refractory metals. It possesses a protective oxide layer that is extremely difficult to remove, even when it is exposed to strong and hot acid environments. This layer results in a material with a non-detectable corrosion rate, which essentially means it cannot corrode. For this reason, it is commonly used in the fabrication of the following components:  

Heat Exchanger and Column, Heat Exchanger Gas separation plant, power plant.

  • Columns
  • Condensers
  • Heat exchangers
  • Helical coils
  • Pipe Stools
  • Reactors
  • Valve linings

Tantalum in Highly Corrosive Environments

Due to its unique characteristics, tantalum is ideal for parts and products used in highly corrosive environments. Its resistance to corrosion and inertness with most acids enable it to withstand long-term use within them. Since it is not damaged or degraded by acids, it can remain in contact with the media for extended periods. 

The material is often used for equipment for the chemical processing and pharmaceutical industries since they generally involve hot and highly corrosive environments. It can stand up to exposure to hot, concentrated acids, like hydrochloric acid (HCI) or sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Other industries that use it include aerospace, electronics, medical, steel finishing, and tooling.

Tantalum Products From ADMAT

Tantalum is an ideal material choice for applications where long-term corrosion resistance is critical. If you’re looking for a reliable supplier of tantalum products, ADMAT has got you covered. We’ve provided refractory metals, including tantalum, in various forms for over 20 years. This vast experience has allowed us to fully understand the importance and benefits of specialty materials, which is why we are committed to providing our customers the highest quality products. They find use in a range of industrial applications since they are compliant with many industry standards.

We offer the following tantalum products

tantalum rod

  • Sheet/plate
  • Rod
  • Bar
  • Wire
  • Tube
  • Strip
  • Foil
  • Sinter bar
  • Powder
  • Oxide
  • Grain stabilized
  • Sputtering target
  • Spring wire

To learn more about tantalum in general or our tantalum products, contact us today. For specific product or pricing details, request a quote.

The Characteristics and Manufacturing Process of Tantalum and Niobium

Tantalum and niobium are transition metals that are commonly found together in nature. They are often difficult to separate from one another due to their similarities in physical and chemical characteristics. In fact, when tantalum was first discovered in 1802, it was confused with niobium, which was discovered much earlier in 1734. It was not recognized as a separate element until 1864. 

While the two materials have many shared properties, there are some key differences between them. Below we highlight each material’s unique characteristics and manufacturing process.

The Characteristics and Manufacturing Process of Tantalum

Tantalum is a dark blue-gray metal that is hard, dense, and ductile. It is also easily fabricated, highly conductive to electricity and heat, and exceptionally resistant to corrosion.

  1. Separation: Since tantalum is often found with niobium, it must undergo a separation process before it can be further refined and used. This process involves treating the ore with a mixture of hydrofluoric acid and sulfuric acid at elevated temperatures, which dissolves the tantalum and niobium into complex fluorides.
  2. Purification: Since other elements are generally present within the ore, the slurry is first filtered and then further processed using a solvent extraction process that uses methyl isobutyl ketone or a liquid ion exchange process that uses an amine extractant in kerosene. The result is a highly purified solution of tantalum.
  3. Conversion: The purified tantalum solution can be turned into tantalum oxide (Ta2O5) or potassium tantalum fluoride (K2TaF7) as needed.
  4. Metal Production: The final step is to convert the tantalum compound into pure tantalum metal using an electrolytic or chemical reduction process.

The Characteristics and Manufacturing Process of Niobium

Niobium—initially known as columbium—is a lustrous gray metal with a high melting point and low density. It is highly ductile and superconductive. 

There are two main processes used for niobium production. They are utilized depending on whether pyrochlore or columbite and tantalum-bearing ores are being processed. 

99.95% fine niobium isolated on white background

  • Pyrochlore Ores: These ores undergo a process that converts the niobium oxide into HSLA ferroniobium. The conversion is performed either through an aluminothermic reduction process or by reduction in an electric arc furnace.
  • Columbite and Tantalum-bearing Ores: These ores undergo the same chemical process outlined in the Tantalum section. Typically, ammonia is introduced to the purified solution of niobium to convert it into niobium hydroxide. The resulting compound is then washed, filtered, and calcined.
  • Metal Production: The calcined niobium hydroxide is then reduced to pure niobium metal using an electrolytic or chemical reduction process.

Learn More About Tantalum and Niobium From the Experts at ADMAT

Want to learn more about tantalum and niobium? Ask the experts at ADMAT! As a leading supplier of refractory metals, including tantalum and niobium, they can answer and address any questions or concerns you may have about these materials. If you want to purchase these metals for your next project, request a quote.