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What is Molybdenum? - Properties, Uses, & Health Benefits

Updated on February 11, 2017
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Molybdenum is a silvery grey soft metal. It was discovered in 1778 by a Swedish Chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Molybdenum was at first mistaken for lead because of it's texture and appearance.

The chemical symbol of Molybdenum is “Mo”. It has an atomic weight of 42. The word Molybdenum originated from the Greek word “Molybdos” meaning lead. Molybdenum is found in layers along with other metallic ores. It does not occur as a free metal on Earth.

Molybdenum is mainly used in the manufacture of steel and metal alloys to increase the strength and durability of the metal.

Properties of Molybdenum

Molybdenum can withstand very high temperatures because it has a very high melting point at about 4730 degrees Fahrenheit.

The melting point of Molybdenum is 2000 degrees higher than the melting point of steel. It is a thousand degrees greater than the melting temperature of most of the rocks, and it has the fifth highest melting point when compared to all other elements on earth.

The very high melting point of Molybdenum makes it an essential part of many manufacturing industries.

How is Molybdenum extracted from the ore?

Molybdenum does not exist as a free metal. Therefore, it has to be extracted from the Molybdenite Ore. Miners dig up Molybdenite from under the ground or from the mountain sides. The portion of the soil that has been dug up is transported to the manufacturing site.

The Molybdenite ore is ground to dust and placed in a flotation tank. Air bubbles are pumped into the tank, and the Molybdenum particles rise to the surface along with the air bubbles and then skimmed off.

Countries Where Molybdenum is Found

Molybdenum is mainly obtained from the ore mineral Molybdenite. Molybdenum is found in foliated masses or layers in the mineral ore, Molybdenite.

A small amount of Molybdenum is also got from the mineral Wulfenite. Very small quantities are also recovered as a by-product of copper from mining.

Molybdenum is primarily produced in Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Russia and Mongolia. The United States is a major producer of Molybdenum. Molybdenum mines are located in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Utah in the United States.

The largest Molybdenum resource in the United States is in Climax, Colorado. It is estimated that there are about 5.5 million metric tons of Molybdenum deposits in the United States alone (Source – mineralseductaioncoalition.org) There are 12 million metric tonnes of Molybdenum deposits around the world.

Pie Chart of Top 5 Molybdenum Producing Countries
Pie Chart of Top 5 Molybdenum Producing Countries | Source

Uses of Molybdenum

Molybdenum is used in the manufacture of air crafts, space crafts, rifle barrels, light bulb filaments, nuclear energy applications, missiles and furnace components. It is utilized in the petroleum industry as a catalyst.

It is also used to make stainless steel. When Molybdenum is added to stainless steel, it makes the steel resistant to very high temperatures. It is an essential element used in chemical and lubricant industries.

Molybdenum is a trace element that the human body uses in small amounts. It is also essential for plants and animals as a trace element.

Health Benefits of Molybdenum

In human beings, Molybdenum is essential as a trace element (an element needed in small quantities) and helps in the following ways –

  • Helps the body to fight nitrosamines that are associated with cancer-causing agents
  • Breaks down sulphite toxins in the body
  • Prevents anemia
  • Helps the cell to function properly
  • Helps in the production of genetic material and proteins

Molybdenum is found in food sources such as lima beans, spinach, grain, peas and green leafy vegetables. A high intake of Molybdenum is toxic to the body and can result in poisoning.

A dosage of 250 micrograms of Molybdenum supplement every day is safe, anything more than that can be toxic.

Molybdenum is essential for plants and animals for the proper functioning of important metabolic activities.

Molybdenum deficiencies in plants can lead to stunted growth, leaves become yellow and wither, blooming of flowers is restricted, and there is a decrease in the production of fruits. In animals, Molybdenum is essential for the proper functioning of the body system.


References

webelements.com

imoa.info

WebMd

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      You're right about Junior High! :)

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Peggy W thank you for your visit and the share, much appreciated.

      Patty Inglish MS that's a great way to remember! Thank you for stopping by. Junior High School usually has memories that one can never forget!!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      I never forgot this element after memorizing the Table of Elements in junior high school and having to spell each one correctly - it took a long time. Then I saw an old western film starring John Astin in a dual role as his characters traveled to the Colorado mining town of Molybdenum, which residents called Molly B. Damn and Molly B. Durn.

      The film, "The Brothers O'Toole" is as funny as "Blazing Saddles." It burned the memory of the element into my memory and every time I hear about the element, I laugh! Great memories!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have heard of this but truly did not know much about it. Thanks for adding to my education. Sharing this with others.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you for stopping by and reading, much appreciated.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      What is Molybdenum? Properties and Uses of Molybdenum, interesting and useful, you explained to the point and a well informed hub

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Elias Zanetti thank you.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Interesting and informative hub, Vellur.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      billybuc thank you, am honored!

      teaches12345 thank you for stopping by and reading.

      Faith Reaper thank you for reading and the share. Thank you for your special blessings.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      First I've ever heard of such. How interesting. Thank you for sharing.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      This is the first I have heard of this metal. Very interesting and thank you for the education!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting! I have never heard of this metal so I appreciate the education. :) You taught this old teacher something.