What Does Molybdenum Do?

The demands of industry are becoming constantly more severe. Engineers require stronger, tougher materials with better hot strength, superior properties at low temperatures, more corrosion resistance and added wear resistance so they can design and build more efficient equipment to improve our lives. Molybdenum helps meet these demands. Just like other common alloying elements, such as chromium and nickel, molybdenum additions give alloy steel and iron a combination of strength, toughness and wear resistance not possible with unalloyed steels. It is used extensively because its inclusion (alone or with other alloying metals) results in a more economical and serviceable part. Moreover, molybdenum makes a unique contribution to hot strength, corrosion resistance and toughness.

Increased Hot Strength
Increasing temperature raises the efficiency of most types of equipment from steam turbines in central power stations to gas turbines in jet planes and even automobiles. Relatively small molybdenum additions are in many cases the best means of increasing hot strength. This applies not only to steel but also to the nonferrous super-alloys with nickel or cobalt as a base. In some aerospace and metalworking applications, molybdenum metal – either pure or with small additions of other alloys – is needed as it stands up even at temperatures where steel melts.

Increased Corrosion Resistance
Molybdenum additions give stainless steel greater corrosion resistance. Molybdenum-containing stainless steel is now specified in automotive trim for long life even along the seacoast and in contact with de-icing salts. In other grades, the added corrosion resistance resulting from molybdenum makes chemical processes industrially feasible that would otherwise be confined to the laboratory.

Increased Strength and Toughness
Small amounts of molybdenum confer toughness to most steels including grades used at cryogenic temperatures for handling and containing liquid gases. Because of molybdenum’s contribution to strength and toughness, low-alloy molybdenum containing steels offer safety and economy in pipelines for oil and natural gas even under arctic conditions. Pure molybdenum metal is used in many applications such as electronics, glass melting and high temperature furnaces.

Chemical and Lubrication Uses

While metals account for the largest part of molybdenum’s consumption, its chemical and lubrication uses are also important. Like metallurgical uses, major chemical uses go unnoticed despite their many contributions.

The use of molybdenum in desulfurization catalysts allows the sulfur level of fuels to be lowered, thus helping to meet the increasingly stringent fuel oil quality demands.

Corrosion inhibition & Pigments
Molybdenum salts act as effective corrosion inhibitors in products such as engine coolants and water treatment systems. They are also used in the production of traditional and new inorganic pigments.

Smoke suppressants & Solid lubrication
Molybdenum compounds function as smoke suppressants in polymer systems, reducing the risks associated with the flammability of such materials. High purity grades of the naturally occurring MoS2 act as solid lubricants in products such as greases, dispersion and bonded coatings.

Learn more about Molybdenum and how it is helping to build a stronger future.
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