Group 5 Element
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Group 5 Element
Group 5
IUPAC group number 5
Name by element
CAS group number
(US, pattern A-B-A)
old IUPAC number
(Europe, pattern A-B)

Image: Vanadium etched
Vanadium (V)
23 Transition metal
Image: Niobium crystals
Niobium (Nb)
41 Transition metal
Image: Tantalum, a single crystal
Tantalum (Ta)
73 Transition metal
7 Dubnium (Db)
105 Transition metal


primordial element
synthetic element
Atomic number color:

Group 5 (by IUPAC style) is a group of elements in the periodic table. Group 5 contains vanadium (V), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta) and dubnium (Db). This group lies in the d-block of the periodic table. The group itself has not acquired a trivial name; it belongs to the broader grouping of the transition metals.

The lighter three Group 5 elements occur naturally and share similar properties; all three are hard refractory metals under standard conditions. The fourth element, dubnium, has been synthesized in laboratories, but it has not been found occurring in nature, with half-life of the most stable isotope, dubnium-268, being only 29 hours, and other isotopes even more radioactive. To date, no experiments in a supercollider have been conducted to synthesize the next member of the group, either unpentseptium (Ups) or unpentennium (Upe). As unpentseptium and unpentennium are both late period 8 elements it is unlikely that these elements will be synthesized in the near future.


Like other groups, the members of this family show patterns in its electron configuration, especially the outermost shells, though niobium curiously does not follow the trend:

Z Element No. of electrons/shell
23 vanadium 2, 8, 11, 2
41 niobium 2, 8, 18, 12, 1
73 tantalum 2, 8, 18, 32, 11, 2
105 dubnium 2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 11, 2

Most of the chemistry has been observed only for the first three members of the group (the chemistry of dubnium is not very established, and therefore the rest of this section deals only with vanadium, niobium, and tantalum). All the elements of the group are reactive metals with a high melting points (1910 °C, 2477 °C, 3017 °C). The reactivity is not always obvious due to the rapid formation of a stable oxide layer, which prevents further reactions, similarly to trends in Group 3 or Group 4. The metals form different oxides: vanadium forms vanadium(II) oxide, vanadium(III) oxide, vanadium(IV) oxide and vanadium(V) oxide, niobium forms niobium(II) oxide, niobium(IV) oxide and niobium(V) oxide, but out of tantalum oxides only tantalum(V) oxide is characterized. Metal(V) oxides are generally nonreactive and act like acids rather than bases, but the lower oxides are less stable. They, however, have some unusual properties for oxides, such as high electric conductivity.[1]

All three elements form various inorganic compounds, generally in the oxidation state of +5. Lower oxidation states are also known, but they are less stable, decreasing in stability with atomic mass increase.


Vanadium was discovered by Andrés Manuel del Río, a Spanish-born Mexican mineralogist, in 1801 in the mineral vanadinite. After other chemists rejected his discovery of erythronium he retracted his claim.[2]

Niobium was discovered by the English chemist Charles Hatchett in 1801.[3]

Tantalum was first discovered in 1802 by Anders Gustav Ekeberg. However, it was thought to be identical to niobium until 1846, when Heinrich Rose proved that the two elements were different. Pure tantalum was not produced until 1903.[4]

Dubnium was first produced in 1968 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research by bombarding americium-243 with neon-22 and was again produced at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1970. The names "neilsbohrium" and "joliotium" were proposed for the element, but in 1997, the IUPAC decided to name the element dubnium.[4]


Vanadium is named for Vanadis, the Scandinavian goddess of love. Niobium is named for Niobe, a figure from Greek mythology. Tantalum is named for Tantalus, a figure from Greek mythology. Dubnium is named for Dubna, Russia, where it was discovered.[4]


There are 160 parts per million of vanadium in the earth's crust, making it the 19th most abundant element there. Soil contains on average 100 parts per million of vanadium, and seawater contains 1.5 parts per billion of vanadium. A typical human contains 285 parts per billion of vanadium. Over 60 vanadium ores are known, including vanadinite, patronite, and carnotite.[4]

There are 20 parts per million of niobium in the earth's crust, making it the 33rd most abundant element there. Soil contains on average 24 parts per million of niobium, and seawater contains 900 parts per quadrillion of niobium. A typical human contains 21 parts per billion of niobium. Niobium is in the minerals columbite and pyrochlore.[4]

There are 2 parts per million of tantalum in the earth's crust, making it the 51st most abundant element there. Soil contains on average 1 to 2 parts per billion of tantalum, and seawater contains 2 parts per trillion of tantalum. A typical human contains 2.9 parts per billion of tantalum. Tantalum is found in the minerals tantalite and pyrochlore.[4]


Approximately 70000 tonnes of vanadium ore are produced yearly, with 25000 t of vanadium ore being produced in Russia, 24000 in South Africa, 19000 in China, and 1000 in Kazakhstan. 7000 t of vanadium metal are produced each year. It is impossible to obtain vanadium by heating its ore with carbon. Instead, vanadium is produced by heating vanadium oxide with calcium in a pressure vessel. Very high-purity vanadium is produced from a reaction of vanadium trichloride with magnesium.[4]

230,000 t of niobium ore are produced yearly, with Brazil producing 210,000 t, Canada producing 10000 t, and Australia producing 1000 t. 60000 t of pure niobium are produced each year.[4]

70000 t of tantalum ore are produced yearly. Brazil produces 90% of tantalum ore, with Canada, Australia, China, and Rwanda also producing the element. The demand for tantalum is around 1200 t per year.[4]

Dubnium is produced synthetically by bombarding actinides with lighter elements.[4]


Vanadium's main application is in alloys, such as vanadium steel. Vanadium alloys are used in springs, tools, jet engines, armor plating, and nuclear reactors. Vanadium oxide gives ceramics a golden color, and other vanadium compounds are used as catalysts to produce polymers.[4]

Small amounts of niobium are added to stainless steel to improve its quality. Niobium alloys are also used in rocket nozzles because of niobium's high corrosion resistance.[4]

Tantalum has four main types of applications. Tantalum is added into objects exposed to high temperatures, in electronic devices, in surgical implants, and for handling corrosive substances.[4]


Pure vanadium is not known to be toxic. However, vanadium pentoxide causes severe irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.[4]

Niobium and its compounds are thought to be slightly toxic, but niobium poisoning is not known to have occurred. Niobium dust can irritate the eyes and skin.[4]

Tantalum and its compounds rarely cause injury, and when they do, the injuries are normally rashes.[4]

Biological occurrences

Out of the group 5 elements, only vanadium has been identified as playing a role in the biological chemistry of living systems, but even it plays a very limited role in biology, and is more important in ocean environments than on land.

Vanadium, essential to ascidians and tunicates as vanabins, has been known in the blood cells of Ascidiacea (sea squirts) since 1911,[5][6] in concentrations of vanadium in their blood more than 100 times higher than the concentration of vanadium in the seawater around them. Several species of macrofungi accumulate vanadium (up to 500 mg/kg in dry weight).[7] Vanadium-dependent bromoperoxidase generates organobromine compounds in a number of species of marine algae.[8]

Rats and chickens are also known to require vanadium in very small amounts and deficiencies result in reduced growth and impaired reproduction.[9] Vanadium is a relatively controversial dietary supplement, primarily for increasing insulin sensitivity[10] and body-building. Vanadyl sulfate may improve glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes.[11] In addition, decavanadate and oxovanadates are species that potentially have many biological activities and that have been successfully used as tools in the comprehension of several biochemical processes.[12]


  1. ^ Holleman, Arnold F.; Wiberg, Egon; Wiberg, Nils (1985). Lehrbuch der Anorganischen Chemie (in German) (91-100 ed.). Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-007511-3.
  2. ^ Cintas, Pedro (2004). "The Road to Chemical Names and Eponyms: Discovery, Priority, and Credit". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 43 (44): 5888-94. doi:10.1002/anie.200330074. PMID 15376297.
  3. ^ Hatchett, Charles (1802). "Eigenschaften und chemisches Verhalten des von Charlesw Hatchett entdeckten neuen Metalls, Columbium". Annalen der Physik (in German). 11 (5): 120-122. Bibcode:1802AnP....11..120H. doi:10.1002/andp.18020110507.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Emsley, John (2011). Nature's Building Blocks.
  5. ^ Henze, M. (1911). "Untersuchungen über das Blut der Ascidien. I. Mitteilung. Die Vanadiumverbindung der Blutkörperchen". Hoppe-Seyler's Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (in German). 72 (5-6): 494-501. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1911.72.5-6.494.
  6. ^ Michibata H, Uyama T, Ueki T, Kanamori K (2002). "Vanadocytes, cells hold the key to resolving the highly selective accumulation and reduction of vanadium in ascidians" (PDF). Microscopy Research and Technique. 56 (6): 421-434. doi:10.1002/jemt.10042. PMID 11921344.
  7. ^ Kneifel, Helmut; Bayer, Ernst (1997). "Determination of the Structure of the Vanadium Compound, Amavadine, from Fly Agaric". Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English. 12 (6): 508. doi:10.1002/anie.197305081. ISSN 1521-3773.
  8. ^ Butler, Alison; Carter-Franklin, Jayme N. (2004). "The role of vanadium bromoperoxidase in the biosynthesis of halogenated marine natural products". Natural Product Reports. 21 (1): 180-8. doi:10.1039/b302337k. PMID 15039842.
  9. ^ Schwarz, Klaus; Milne, David B. (1971). "Growth Effects of Vanadium in the Rat". Science. 174 (4007): 426-428. Bibcode:1971Sci...174..426S. doi:10.1126/science.174.4007.426. JSTOR 1731776. PMID 5112000.
  10. ^ Yeh, Gloria Y.; Eisenberg, David M.; Kaptchuk, Ted J.; Phillips, Russell S. (2003). "Systematic Review of Herbs and Dietary Supplements for Glycemic Control in Diabetes". Diabetes Care. 26 (4): 1277-1294. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.4.1277. PMID 12663610.
  11. ^ Badmaev, V.; Prakash, Subbalakshmi; Majeed, Muhammed (1999). "Vanadium: a review of its potential role in the fight against diabetes". The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 5 (3): 273-291. doi:10.1089/acm.1999.5.273. PMID 10381252.
  12. ^ Aureliano, Manuel; Crans, Debbie C. (2009). "Decavanadate and oxovanadates: Oxometalates with many biological activities". Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. 103: 536-546. doi:10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2008.11.010.

Further reading

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