IYPT Elements

IYPT 2019 Elements 042: Molybdenum: Alloys, lubricants and enzymes

Element 42 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is molybdenum. Found in steel and used in lubricants in some engines, it’s also found in enzymes in our bodies that help us process sulfites in various foods.

Molybdenum is added to steel, widely used as a building material, to make it corrosion resistant. These steels find widespread use, but are particularly used in marine environments such as on offshore oil rigs. It also makes steel more heat resistant and stronger.

In the form of the compound molybdenum disulfide, molybdenum is found in some lubricants. These are particularly used for high-temperature applications, such as in motorcycle and aircraft engines.

Molybdenum also plays an important role in our bodies. It’s found in sulfite oxidising enzymes which help our bodies process the sulfite compounds found in a number of foods and drinks. These include red wine, cheese and pickles.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.