Creating a Stronger, Lighter U.S. Army .
High strength, vanadium microalloyed steels enable lighter structures, compared to conventional steel structures in U.S. Army applications. The element vanadium, when combined with other steel processing innovations, can provide this enabling capability for the U.S. Army
What is Vanadium? Vanadium is a well-known, but perhaps underutilized, alloying element that enables higher strength steel. Two broad areas of U.S. Army applications could benefit from Steel Spaninnovative designs utilizing vanadium microalloyed steels. Civil engineering applications could realize higher strength or lighter structures designed to resist blasts or seismic shocks. Mobility and packaging applications could benefit from higher strength steel to reduce weapon system weight, improve mobility and readiness, while reducing fuel requirements and emissions. Vanadium is a soft, ductile, silver-gray metal. Many of its properties resemble those of chromium. It is corrosion resistant at normal temperature, but oxidizes above 600ยบC. Vanadium is not found uncombined in nature, but is distributed widely through a variety of minerals. In the United States, the primary source of vanadium is spent catalyst from chemical processing plants. These catalysts are processed by several companies that, in turn, supply vanadium alloying stock to steel producers. The principal use of vanadium is in metallic alloys, especially steels. In tool and spring steels it is a powerful alloying agent; a small amount (less than 1%) adds strength, toughness and heat resistance. It is usually added in the form of ferrovanadium, a vanadium-iron alloy. Vanadium compounds, especially vanadium pentoxide, are used in the ceramics, glass, and dye industries, and are important as catalysts in the chemical industry. The environmental benefits of recycled vanadium are worth noting. Each year 6 million pounds of vanadium are recycled from spent catalysts. Recycling reduces energy requirements associated with proc-essing virgin vanadium ores, eliminates or reduces the need for land filling these "wastes," and ensures a domestic supply of vanadium for U.S. steel producers that supply here and abroad.