Technical Paper

Niobium: future possibilities - technology and the market place

International Symposium Niobium 2001

Although niobium is now two hundred years old, it has been only during the past four decades that it has been consumed as an industrial material. During this time, niobium has been established as part of the engineering solution in numerous cases for its own technical merits. The most important of these cases are in the field of oil and gas transportation, automotive industry, high-rise buildings, aircraft engines and medical diagnosis devices. The future will see niobium as an increasingly important technological solution in a broad spectrum of end uses as specific niobium properties continue to be investigated. The bulk of niobium will continue to go into steel since its present position is unchallenged in the three main microalloyed steel domains (pipe, automotive and structural’s). In pipe steels niobium will remain a chief microalloying element in all steel grades. In automotive steels it will remain the most important microalloying element in all hot and cold rolled HSLA steels with a good chance to penetrate the new and important group of multi-phase steels. In addition, it is expected that all thermomechanically processed high strength steels for structural components will contain niobium as the first microalloy choice in the future. With regard to the non-ferrous applications niobium will be rather used for high value-added products. There will be new opportunities for niobium in nickel-based superalloys for the automotive industry, for optimized alloys in aircraft engines, land base turbines and a variety of applications requiring improved abrasion and corrosion resistance. Examples of other areas where niobium can have its presence further developed due to economical and technological changes are electronics (electrolytic capacitors and battery alloys), medical (implant materials), photonics (thin films) and chemical (catalytic applications). Intensified research and development in these expanding and highly promising areas bears the chance of outstanding results and thus might turn into a market expansion with growth in added value rather than in added tonnage. (AU)
Technical Paper (PDF 12.38 MB)