Environment, Materials


Meeting demands, the subject of this post is tantalum, an element similar to the niobium. I will talk about the properties, reserves, extraction and applications.


This metal is grey, hard, malleable(can be folded, bladed, forged and conformed) and ductile. Here we have wires and a roll of tantalum plate.

It is also very resistente to corrosion due to oxide film and it is not rejected by human immunological system for not react to corporal fluids. This figure shows some more properties of this element.

Translating the figure above:

  • Atomic number: 73;
  • Atomic mass: 180.94788 u;
  • Melting point: 3017 ºC;
  • Boiling point: 5458 ºC;
  • Density: 16.65 g/cm³;
  • Abundance: 2 mg/kg;
  • Oxidation state: +3 e +5;
  • Electronic configuration: [Xe]4f^{14} 5d^{3} 6s^{2}.


The ore which has tantalum is tantalite, whose formula is (Fe,Mn)Ta_{2}O_{6}.

Many times the tantalum is found with niobium in form of a ore called coltan (columbite tantalite).

The greatest reserves stay in Brazil, Australia, Canada, China and Democratic Republic of Congo. This graphic shows the world production from 2000 to 2014.


The extraction method is not very different from niobium, because with frequency both elements are found in nature, to know more about niobium extraction click in the button below.

Niobium NiobiumClick here


To separate the metal it is necessary put the mineral in a solvent with hydrofluoric acid (HF), the only acid which can react with tantalum. is obtained the substance K_{2}TaF_{7}. The tantalum is obtained by pentoxides reduction with sodium or by electrolysis. Since the extraction process is similar to the niobium, the environmental impact is almost the same.


One of the main application is in electronics, this figure shows the interior of a SMD capacitor.

The tantalum oxide used as dialectical in capacitors allow to reduce the size without reduce the capacitance, due to bigger dialectical constant than aluminum oxide.

Your high resistance to corrosion allow it to be used in tubes to heat transfer and transport of corrosive products.

The tantalum isn`t rejected by the human immunological system, therefore it is used in prosthesis, dental and surgical implants.


Others applications envolve:

  • Ingot used in computers hard drives;
  • Oxide to camera lens;
  • Superalloys to airplane`s turbines;
  • Cutting and piercing tools;
  • Antitank missiles like TOW-2.

About Pedro Ney Stroski

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