Niobium (formerly Columbium) – is found in the minerals of columbite and pyrochlore. Its free element has not been found in nature, but niobium occurs together with other elements such as tantalum. It has a melting point of 2470 C and boiling point of 4752 C. Niobium is separated from tantalum by hydrometallurgical process.
In the commercial market Niobium is traded in the oxide form, most commonly as Niobium pentoxide (Nb2O5) which is traded in form of powder. Niobium pentoxide is a precursor to all the Niobium products. From Niobium pentoxide we with the means of alumino-thermic reduction produce master alloy. Depending on the client’s specification the Niobium content in the Nickel-Niobium alloy can vary from 65%-73%.
Nickel-Niobium alloy (NiNb) is used in Nickel based super alloys for jet and rocket engines. Niobium increases mechanical properties and weldability. Moreover Nickel-Niobium has lower melting point than pure Niobium, thus reduces the costs of producing a super-alloy.