Tantalum (Ta) is an extremely hard and bright metal. It is silvery-gray in color, and it is part of Group 5 (vb) in the periodic table. This metal has many unique properties, including a high resistance to acids at ordinary temperature levels (except hydrofluoric acid). Tantalum also has high density and melting points.
Tantalum was first discovered back in 1802 by a Swedish chemist named Anders Gustaf Ekeberg. The metal’s name is derived from the mythical Greek figure Tantalus, who was punished with eternal frustration for his sin of thinking he could trick the Gods.
This unique metal has some close similarities to the chemical element niobium, which is also in Group 5 (vb) in the periodic table. In fact, the two metals are similar, it was initially difficult to discern between them. It was not until 1844 that a German chemist named Heinrich Rose was able to show how the two elements were distinct from each other. In 1903, Werner Bolton, a Russian chemist, prepared a ductile type of tantalum that was used initially (and for a brief time) as a filament in incandescent lamps.
Tantalum is somewhat rare. It is found (combined with niobium and some trace levels of gold and manganese) in Russia and in Central Asia. The highest amounts of the metal are found in Rwanda. To separate natural tantalum from niobium compounds, the metal goes through a liquid to liquid process that creates a powder form. This powder is used in metallurgy techniques to create tantalum in metal form.
Tantalum has many uses. It’s used in industry in the creation of electrolytic capacitors as well as in corrosion-resistant chemical equipment, and it’s also used to create components in electron tubes, prosthetic devices, and rectifiers.
At Avion Alloys, all of our Tantalum is fully certified by U.S.producing mills. We are a NASA-approved vendor serving a variety of industries locally and globally. If you have questions about any of our steel products or would like to receive a quote, contact us at (800) 408-2329 or visit us online.