Niobium is the solution to some of the most sophisticated technological challenges of the modern age.
The beneficial effects of niobium use are directly related to its properties and the properties it bestows on materials. When small amounts (200-1,000 g/t) are added as an alloying element to the composition, niobium is the most efficient grain refiner in steels. Grain refinement is the only mechanism that increases steel strength and toughness simultaneously. Structures using niobium containing steel are lighter, thereby more energy efficient and environmentally sound.
In addition to steel, niobium's unique characteristics make it useful in a range of other applications.
Niobium is the lightest refractory metal and has a high melting temperature (2,468ºC). This property allows its alloys to provide structural solutions at high temperatures: higher than 600ºC in nickel based alloys and as high as 1,300ºC in niobium based alloys.
Below -264ºC, niobium has superconducting properties. It conducts high densities of electrical current resistance-free, creating magnetic fields and forces that yield important practical applications in areas such as medical diagnostics, materials research and transportation.