How Does Vanadium Oxide Work as a Catalyst?

Since transition metals with their compounds can vary their oxidation state (oxidation number),  it’s a nice illustration of how they can function as catalysts. The vanadium(V) oxide reacts with the sulfur dioxide to produce sulfur trioxide.

A vanadium pentoxide catalyst is a primary component for producing sulfuric acid in chemical facilities. Its short name is a catalyst for sulfuric acid. When converting SO2 oxide to SO3, vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) is a key ingredient. When a reaction with air humidity occurs, SO2 in the air is often transformed to SO3, and sulfuric acid is created.

Vanadium(V) Oxide

Mineralogists in Mexico made the initial discovery of vanadium. One of the components of the Mendeleev periodic table gray particle shape is vanadium metal. It is one of the most prevalent elements on Earth and is found in numerous mines.

Most of this element’s resources are held by nations including Australia, China, Russia, and South Africa. Vanadium is very important to the aircraft industry because of its low density and tolerance to high temperatures and pressure.

The inorganic substance in question has the formula V2O5. Commonly referred to as vanadium pentoxide, it’s a deep orange solid that is brown or yellow once freshly precipitated from an aqueous solution. Due to its high oxidation state, it is both an oxidizing agent and an amphoteric oxide.

As the main precursor to vanadium alloys and a popular industrial catalyst, it is the most significant vanadium compound from an industrial standpoint. Shcherbinaite, this chemical’s mineral form, is often discovered with fumaroles. Another name for the mineral trihydrate V2O53H2O is navajoite.

Vanadium Oxide as a Catalyst

A catalyst is a material that accelerates a reaction while maintaining the equilibrium standard Gibbs free energy. Catalysts can be single substances, multi-component substances, or combinations. Because of their extremely high selectivity, catalysts are used in various processes.

V2O5 is a crucial catalyst in the chemical sector. A group of vanadium catalysts have vanadium compounds as their active ingredients. Oxides, chlorides, complexes, and heteropoly compounds containing vanadium, frequently utilized in industrial applications, are among their active constituents.

V2O5, with over one addition, is the most often used active ingredient. Almost every oxidation reaction can be effectively catalyzed by catalysts that contain V2O5.

Vanadium catalysts are utilized as specialized catalysts for the production of sulfuric acid, petroleum cracking, rubber synthesis, and the synthesis of various high-molecular compounds, and they play a significant part in the modern chemical industry.

The synthesis of sulfuric acid, a significant industrial chemical with an annual global production of 165 m tons in 2001 and an estimated value of US$8 billion, is another significant application of vanadium(V) oxide. In the contact process, vanadium(V) oxide is essential for catalyzing the slightly exothermic oxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide by air.

Sulfuric acid is produced via contact in the high quantities required for industrial processes. Originally, platinum was utilized as the catalyst for this type of reaction, but V2O5 is now favored since platinum is likely to react with the arsenic impurities in the sulfur feedstock.

During the Contact Process, sulfur dioxide must be changed into sulfur trioxide to produce sulfuric acid. It’s accomplished by passing oxygen and sulfur dioxide over a solid VO catalyst.

It is a nice illustration of how they can function as catalysts because transition metals and their compounds can vary their oxidation state (oxidation number). The vanadium(V) oxide reacts with the results in oxidizing the sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide, reduction of vanadium(V) oxide to vanadium(IV) oxide. The oxygen goes on to reoxidize the vanadium(IV) oxide.

The catalyst is chemically the same as at the beginning of the reaction, notwithstanding a brief alteration.

Why does the Contact Process Use V2O5?

V2O5 is utilized as a catalyst to speed up the reaction rate. Here, using V2O5 as a catalyst lowers the higher temperature needs while speeding up the reaction. The catalyst utilized in the contact process converter stage is vanadium pentoxide. Being a very slow process, it acts as a catalyst to increase the conversion of SO2 – SO3. The reaction’s equation is provided below.


In this reaction, vanadium pentoxide does not react; rather, it serves as a platform for the reaction to proceed quickly.

Take Away

Vanadium Oxide is less efficient and expensive as well as unaffected by impurities. It is, therefore, very significant in all chemical sectors.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *