First discovered in 1801 by a professor of mineralogy in Mexico City, vanadium has some rare qualities that give it the ability to make materials stronger, lighter, more efficient and more powerful. Adding small percentages of it to steel and aluminum creates ultra-high-strength, super-light and resilient alloys.

Just two pounds of vanadium added to a tonne of steel doubles its strength, so it is unsurprising that 80% of vanadium is used to make ferrovanadium – a steel additive.

Henry Ford was the first to use vanadium on an industrial scale, in the 1908 Model T car chassis. But it is only recently that auto makers have discovered that adding vanadium to car bodies makes them lighter and stronger.

Twenty years ago no vanadium went into cars, versus around 45 percent today. By 2025, it’s estimated that 85 percent of all automobiles will incorporate vanadium alloy to reduce their weight, thereby increasing their fuel efficiency to conform to stringent fuel economy standards set by the US EPA.

Vanadium’s corrosion-resistant properties make it ideal for tubes and pipes manufactured to carry chemicals. Vanadium-titanium alloys have the best strength-to-weight ratio of any engineered material on earth. Less than one percent of vanadium and as little chromium makes steel shock and vibration  resistant. A thin layer of vanadium is used to bond titanium to steel, making it ideal for aerospace applications. Mixing titanium with vanadium and iron strengthens and adds durability to turbines that spin up to 70,000 rpm.