Element Collection

Element Collection

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Experiment: Vanadium Pentoxide Thermite

Here's a quick one. This thermite was a 2.02:1 mix of V2O5:Al powder. Vanadium pentoxide is a (fairly toxic) orange powder, and it made a sandy colored thermite mix. It reacts via the equation

10Al + 3V2O5 -> 5Al2O3 + 6V

I was only able to get one good picture of the actual reaction because it happens so fast - its more like a small explosion! It produced some very bright white sparks, a color that the camera didn't capture too well. I thought it was going to start a brush fire afterward, as you can see in the last two photos by all the fire! I was able to find some small pieces of vanadium in the aftermath - a lot of which was lying in the sand nearby. Some pieces had some tarnish on them, giving them a neat iridescent purpleish shine.

I've also recorded a video of this reaction in action, so you can see how quickly it goes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j-7LxavEJ4

The vial is filled with small pieces from the reaction pictured below and the one in the video.

The video version was a much larger batch, and produced the large single lump of vanadium metal seen below.

Here's some photos of the original (smaller) reaction I did.


  1. I would be interested in seeing the vanadium produced, the tarnish sounds like it would be very interesting.

    1. Ask and ye shall receive! Post edited to include pictures of the product metal, and a link to my YouTube video where I did this reaction larger scale.

  2. What size aluminum were you using? A larger granulation might slow down the reaction a bit.

    Also, what kind of yield does the large nugget represent (i.e. how much of the original vanadium does it contain)?