Most of the molybdenum concentrate is roasted to convert the sulfide to oxide, which is known as Technical Molybdic Oxide. Technical Oxide is the most common means of adding molybdenum to steel. Alternatively, a mixture of Technical Oxide and iron oxide can be reduced by aluminum in a thermite reaction to produce ferromolybdenum (also referred to as FeMo). Foundries generally use ferromolybdenum when adding molybdenum to cast irons and steels, and steel mills may prefer it to Technical Oxide for some types of steels.
The molybdenite concentrate can also be subjected to further processing to produce an upgraded product that can be used as a solid lubricant.
Pure Molybdic Oxide can be produced from Technical Oxide by either a sublimation process or a wet chemical process that also produces an ammonium molybdate. Pure Oxide is suitable for use by chemical and catalyst manufacturers, who cannot use Technical Oxide due to its impurity content.
Molybdenum metal powder is produced by hydrogen reduction of the Pure Oxide or an ammonium molybdate. The molybdenum metal powder has some uses as a powder, but is more often consolidated into usable forms by vacuum melting or by pressing and sintering.
Who uses Molybdenum?
Almost everyone depends on molybdenum, even though they may not realize it. Molybdenum looks like many other grey metals, but is not used in an easily recognized form like, for example, copper or aluminum are used. Instead, Moly is used as an addition to steels, irons and non-ferrous alloys or other ways in which the Moly itself is never seen.
Everyone knows what copper and aluminum look like and can immediately identify a copper cable or aluminum can. But not many can look at a light bulb or a TV tube and tell which parts are made of molybdenum.
On the other hand, the increasing popularity of lubricants containing Molysulfide© has extended from heavy industry to service stations and home workshops. The black color and the inclusion of the term ‘Moly’ in the lubricant manufacturer’s trademark can identify these products.