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