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Products - Niobium

Niobium Application

Using Niobium in the Aerospace Industry

Products made from niobium by Firmetal are employed in civil and military aerospace applications as a component in the superalloys in turbine blades, flame and heat shielding, and other parts of jet engines. In these applications, the outstanding high temperature properties of niobium contribute to structural integrity and fuel efficiency at high operating temperatures.

Using Niobium in Chemical Processing

Niobium's resistance to high temperatures and chemical corrosion make it, and its alloys, common construction materials for chemical, pharmaceutical and nuclear plant processing equipment.

Niobium operates safely at high temperatures and chemical concentrations, while minimizing product contamination. Applications include: reaction vessels, liners and repair

materials, instrumentation and safety devices such as thermowells, diaphragms, rupture discs and orifices.

Because it is easy to fabricate, niobium parts can be designed with thin cross sections and in intricate shapes, as in spinnerets and impellers.

Niobium offers high thermal conductivity, which is important to distillation equipment, heat exchangers, condensers, bayonet heaters, spiral coils, U-tubes, spargers, side-arm reboilers and thermowells. Thin-gauge niobium strips can be readily deep-drawn to produce inert laboratory crucibles and cups.

Using Niobium in Electronics

Long used in as a starting material for electronic specialty ceramics and metallic thin films, new niobium-based dielectric materials are showing promise in new capacitors, being sampled in the marketplace now. Niobium offers electronic properties similar to tantalum, but at a potentially lower cost.

Using Niobium in Lighting

When lighting requirements go beyond incandescent and fluorescent lighting, there is high-intensity discharge, or HID, lighting. The most common HID lamps are the mercury or sodium vapor types seen in roadway, outdoor industrial or stadium lighting. These types are among the most energy efficient, long-life light sources available today.

Westinghouse's early sodium vapor lamp designs included critical metal parts as end-caps and lead wires. It was tantalum metal that offered resistance against chemical attack from sodium vapor. Over thirty years later, the application demands are similar, but the tantalum has been replaced with another Firmetal product, a niobium-zirconium alloy.

Today's niobium-1% zirconium (Nb-1Zr) alloy is the prominent material of choice for the critical metal parts in HID lamps. This niobium alloy provides the right blend of cost and high temperature mechanical strength, while prolonging service life so important to lighting manufacturers and their minicipal and commercial customers.

Using Niobium in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

When a patient is placed within a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, powerful magnets made of superconducting wire and cable, produce a magnetic field. Hydrogen atoms that exist in a body's water and fat molecules accept energy from the magnetic field, then release this energy at a frequency that can be detected and displayed on a computer.
A key component of the superconducting magnet is a niobium alloy. When cooled, niobium-titanium eliminates resistance to the electrical currents, resulting in much stronger magnetic fields.

Using Niobium in Specialty Glasses & Ceramics

Niobium Oxides (Nb2O5) are frequently used in making special glasses, piezoelectric, dielectric and electro-optical devices. Applications include high refractive index glasses, fiber optic components, high dielectric constant ceramics and additives for piezoelectrics.

One of the largest uses for these high purity oxides is in optical lenses for cameras, ophthalmics, and microscopes. Another major application is to produce lithium niobate or tantalate single crystals for surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters for electronic equipment.

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