Molybdenum’s biggest claim to fame is that it is a catalyst for reactions ranging in scale from the bacterial to industrial.
It is a transition metal that is also an essential element. It is vital for life and was also key to the evolution of life.
Molybedenum is found in enzymes, most importantly nitrogenase, which converts elemental nitrogen to useable ammonia. This is why it is found in fertilisers.
Somewhat confusingly, the element molybdenum gets its name from the Greek word molybdos, meaning ‘lead’.
Moly-steel is very strong alloy that is used in things like armour plating and rocket engines, says Professor Allan Blackman from the Auckland University of Technology.
The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.
Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.
Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.