The story of Tantalus. Physical and mechanical properties.
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Tantalum is classified as a transitional metal. It was discovered in 1802 by Anders G. Ekeberg, a Professor of Uppsala University (Sweden) in the minerals tantalite from Finland and acrotretida from Sweden.
However then, to the dismay of Ekeberg, in 1809 the well-known English chemist William Wollaston said that there was no opening. Wollaston argued that the new member of the Ekeberg was actually niobium, which was also discovered in 1802. The scientific community has come to the conclusion that Wollaston rights, and the requirement of Ekeberg on a new element was declared a mistake.
Tantalum and niobium are in fact hard to separate from each other, which led to Wollaston’s error. But only in 1846 German mineralogist Heinrich rose finally proved that tantalum and niobium were different elements.
In 1903, Werner von Bolton for the first time ropinirol tantalum metal.
The element name comes from the Greek mythological character Tantalos. Niobe (niobium) was the daughter Tantalos. Ekeberg gave his new element the name tantalum because it had been, as he said, «tantalizing» element.
Tantalum is considered to be non-toxic. It is a rare, shiny, gray, dense metal. It is very ductile and can be stretched into a thin wire.
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Properties of tantalum
Chemical properties of this metal is very similar to the chemical properties of niobium. Tantalum has high corrosion resistance due to formation of an oxide film. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.
The metal has a melting point that is higher only tungsten and rhenium.
Tantalum is one of the five major refractory metals (metals with very high resistance to heat and wear). Other refractory metals are tungsten, molybdenum, rhenium and niobium.
Tantalum is used in electronic industry for capacitors and power resistors. It is also used for the manufacture of alloys of high strength, ductility and corrosion resistance. The metal used in dental and surgical instruments and implants because it does not cause immune rejection.
The density of tantalum in the earth’s crust is 1.7 parts per million by weight, 0.2 parts per million by moles. Tantalum in a free state is not found, it is extracted from minerals such as columbite and tantalite. Minerals containing tantalum, often also contain niobium. Commercially, tantalum is extracted first by the formation of oxide (Ta2 O5). Then the oxide is reduced using carbon or hydrogen.
Tantalum has 31 isotopes (half-lives are known), with mass numbers from 156 to 186. Naturally occurring tantalum consists of its one stable isotope 181Та.
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