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May 2 2012 4 02 /05 /May /2012 13:26

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Tantalum will be discussed here.


Tantalum is an extremely dense, bluish-gray metal. It is named after the king Tantalus, who was submerged in water he could not ever drink and was near fruit he could never eat. Tantalum's behavior of being submerged in acids but never able to dissolve was the reason that it was given the name. Tantalum is a rare and expensive metal, found in niobium ores. It was mistakenly confused with niobium, despite its much higher density, and is difficult to remove from the aforementioned metal. When tantalum is pure, it has excellent physical strength and properties, making it ideal for artificial limbs and fine medical instruments. Tantalum, despite its seeming invincibility, has its weak points; it can be dissolved in hydrofluoric acid or molten hydroxides. Tantalum is primarily pentavalent, which is part of the reason for its inertness. The oxide is a white unreactive substance, difficult to reduce to the metal. It can be made to form compounds to dissolving in molten metal hydroxides or electric arc fusion with other metals, forming a range of tantalates. 


In element form: High capacity (30 mfd or so) tantalum capacitors have a lump of anodized tantalum in the middle. Use hot hydrochloric acid to dissolve any manganese dioxide which may be present. Some expensive medical instruments use tantalum.


In compound form: Motion sensors may contain lithium tantalate as the sensing material.


Here is my sample of tantalum. It is a nugget of tantalum metal with tantalum connector wire, taken from a 22 mfd tantalum capacitor. The green anodized color is visible in certain places.



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Published by LanthanumK - in Elements
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Julian Garcia 07/10/2013 00:54

Thanks for your help, is very helpful

Julian Garcia 07/02/2013 15:32

Thanks for your answer, but my partner and I, will start operations in mine, so we need to determine % of our minerals, actually are four companies interested in our minerals, in our country we
doesnt have alfred knight or alex steward laboratories, so, the only way to determine the % is from samples get from our mines to send to UK or Perú that is the near place to our mines, is a
fact, but is complicated and expensive to carry a little sample to analysis, the extention of our areas are huge, if that sample is under % that the client ask, is time, effort and money lost. I
really appreciate if you can give me a guide to obtein a solution of this matter. Again Thanks in advance for your answer

LanthanumK 07/06/2013 00:35

Tantalite is a very heavy mineral, so crushing and removing the lighter portion would be a first step. The chemistry needed to extract tantalum is not something that can be done informally; it
requires a well-established laboratory. Since I am not familiar with the extraction, purification, and analysis of tantalum, the folks at sciencemadness.org may be able to help. You would just
need to register before posting. However, this is complex inorganic chemistry, possibly outside of the range of amateur experimenters.

Julian Garcia 06/26/2013 00:57

Hi, I wonder how can I test % of a sample in mine, is far far away from any city, thanks in advance for your answer

LanthanumK 06/27/2013 19:51

Tantalum generally occurs in mines as an iron tantalate. Tantalum pentoxide is very inert in this form, and generally is dissolved in hydrofluoric acid (an extremely dangerous acid) to extract
it. I don't think it is possible with home chemistry to measure the quantity of tantalum in a sample of dirt. If this does not answer your question, please reply.