Researchers have made a significant discovery of vanadium, a valuable material used in various industries, in sediment samples taken from the Gulf of Khambhat near Alang, Gujarat, where it’s typically scarce in India. This finding is noteworthy because vanadium is essential for strengthening steel and manufacturing batteries.
Just a few months ago, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) uncovered an impressive 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir, drawing praise from stakeholders in the automotive sector and government ministers. They viewed this as a major development, emphasizing that these reserves could greatly contribute to India’s efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and promote electric mobility.
The GSI, responsible for studying the sediment samples, recently reported this potential new source of vanadium. B Gopakumar, a researcher from the Marine and Coastal Survey Division (MCSD) of GSI in Mangalore, noted that it’s the first documented occurrence of vanadium in India’s offshore sediments, as published in the ‘Nature’ magazine.
Vanadium is rarely found in its pure form in nature and is typically present in over 55 different minerals, making its production expensive. In the Gulf of Khambhat, it was discovered within a mineral called titanomagnetite, formed when molten lava rapidly cools.
GSI scientists believe that the vanadiferous titanomagnetite deposits in the Gulf of Khambhat were likely carried from the Deccan basalts region, primarily through the Narmada and Tapi rivers. They collected a total of 69 sediment samples from the area.
Vanadium plays a crucial role in strategic sectors like defense and aerospace. For example, vanadium-containing alloys are used in the production of jet engine components and high-speed airframes, as they offer resistance to corrosion, wear, and high temperatures.
Furthermore, vanadium is essential for energy storage and the manufacturing of critical electronic components. It’s also utilized in the creation of vanadium redox flow batteries, which hold promise for large-scale energy storage applications.
While traces of vanadium have been found in some regions of India, this discovery in the Gulf of Khambhat represents a significant step toward expanding access to this valuable resource.