Jun 1, 2023
EXPLORING MULTIPLE USES FOR MOLYBDENUM AS A CRITICAL METAL
Critical metals have a strong influence on the economic, industrial, and technological development of both major and emerging economies around the world. The importance on the world stage is so prevalent that countries such as the United States, Japan, Canada, and the UK have all developed investments to gain better access to these materials.
Some critical metals, like graphite and lithium, have strong demand derived from their uses in battery development in the green technology space. However, other metals — such as molybdenum — have uses that touch on different aspects of traditional industry and green technology.
Different Molybdenum Uses
With strong similarities to lead and graphite, molybdenum as an element is often found as a component material to be added on to others to generate a specific chemical reaction, offer elemental resistance, and more.
One of the main uses for molybdenum is as an alloy additive to steel. Through the smelting process, molybdenum provides better strength to steel through its ability to withstand high temperatures and pressures. The element also lends some corrosion resistance, which can help manufacturing in more environmentally exposed areas such as pipelines and marine environments.
Catalysts and Lubricants
Another popular use for molybdenum is as a catalyst and lubricant for different materials within the chemical and manufacturing industries.
As a catalyst, molybdenum can provide the capability for refineries to remove sulfur from gas and petroleum products, a process known as hydrodesulfurization.
As a lubricant, molybdenum can be combined with sulfur to provide a lubricant that works best in high-heat environments such as engines.
Molybdenum has been used in a variety of paint and dyes as a stabilizer and corrosion inhibitor. This can keep colors better formed without breaking and keep consistency over time.
Some of the more popular colors are known as molybdenum orange, which is often used for its heat-stable properties. The metal can be combined with zinc and used with other pigments to provide primers and other specific paint uses.
Research on molybdenum’s different properties has uncovered the metal’s potential in improving the capabilities of existing lithium-powered batteries.
Dr. Kyeongjae Cho, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas, has begun looking at lithium-sulfur batteries as a possible substitute for the popular lithium-ion batteries that we use daily. Sulfur continues to be a complicated material to work with, and lithium metal alone is too unstable.
The workaround that Dr. Cho’s team has uncovered is the use of molybdenum, which has properties that improve the stability of the battery and could potentially improve the power density of the battery itself.
Additional research by scientists based in China indicated that it is the properties of sulfur that make the capacity of these new possible alternative batteries rapidly lose their capacity and decay over time.
As such, Molybdenum materials are being used to design better cathode/anode hosts as well as possibly modifying the battery’s overall performance through the material’s inherent conductivity and reaction towards lithium polysulfides (LiPSs).
Molybdenum-based materials’ tunable crystal structure, adjustable composition, and variable valence in their centers have strong indications to further improve an already potential alternative to lithium-ion.
With all this said, it’s important to take a wide lens onto what might be the next step for this metal in the broader commercial space. Before long, it may be a common fixture we start seeing more and more of everyday.
Northcliff Resources holds an 88.5% controlling interest in the Sisson Tungsten-Molybdenum Project in New Brunswick, Canada. As the world continues its push towards securing the necessary minerals and metals to power innovation, the Northcliff Sisson Project has the potential to become a near-term critical metal producer, providing a new primary supply of tungsten and molybdenum to North American, European, and Asian markets.
Northcliff is a mineral resource company focused on advancing the feasibility-stage Sisson tungsten-molybdenum project located in New Brunswick, Canada, to production. Additional information on Northcliff is available on the website at www.northcliffresources.com