What is Molybdenum


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What's molybdenum?

Molybdenum(from the Ancient Greek Μόλυβδος molybdos, meaning lead), is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The free element, which is a silvery metal, has the sixth-highest melting point of any element. It readily forms hard, stable carbides, and for this reason it is often used in high-strength steel alloys. Mo does not occur as the free metal in nature, but rather in various oxidation states in minerals. Industrially molybdenum compounds are used in high pressure and high temperature applications, as pigments and catalysts.


Characteristics of molybdenum

Most of molybdenum compounds have low water solubility, but the molybdate ion MoO2−4 is soluble and will form if molybdenum-containing minerals are in contact with oxygen and water. Recent theories suggest that the release of oxygen by early life was important in removing mo from minerals into a soluble form in the early oceans, where it was used as a catalyst by single-celled organisms. This sequence may have been important in the history of life, because moly-containing enzymes then became the most important catalysts used by some bacteria to break into atoms the atmospheric molecular nitrogen, allowing biological nitrogen fixation. This, in turn allowed biologically driven nitrogen-fertilization of the oceans, and thus the development of more complex organisms. At least 50 moly-containing enzymes are known in bacteria and animals, which are mostly involved with nitrogen fixation. Mo is a required element for life in these higher organisms, though not in all bacteria.

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