Niobium is a soft, grey, lustrous, ductile transition metal. As niobium oxidizes at temperatures above 400 C, a protective coating is necessary for these applications to prevent the metal from becoming brittle. It takes on a bluish tinge when exposed to air at room temperature for extended periods. It also has a low density in comparison to other refractory metals.
Niobium is corrosion resistant and exhibits superconductivity properties; and can be used in the manufacture and production of steel products, superalloys, electronics, superconducting magnets, numismatics, metal devices, glass, turbines, thrust bearings, high-speed bearings, combustion chambers, superconductors, pressure-resistant and heat-resistant parts as well as all types of wear-resistant components.
With increasing Environmental awareness, niobium has been discovered as a significant contributor in the reduction of CO2 released into the atmosphere by vehicles. A relatively small amount of niobium improves fuel consumption by reducing the overall weight of the vehicle. The World Steel Association found that US$9 of niobium used in the car manufacturing process would reduce the weight of a mid-sized car by 100kg, reducing fuel consumption by 1 litre per 200 kilometres corresponding to a lifetime saving of 2.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per vehicle (based on life cycle assessment). Furthermore, the savings of fuel emissions was found to be more than the total amount of CO2 produced as a result of steel production in the production of the vehicle.