Vanadium(V) oxide (vanadia) is the inorganic compound with the formula V2O5. Commonly known as vanadium pentoxide, it is a brown/yellow solid, although when freshly precipitated from aqueous solution, its colour is deep orange. Because of its high oxidation state, it is both an amphoteric oxide and an oxidizing agent. From the industrial perspective, it is the most important compound of vanadium, being the principal precursor to alloys of vanadium and is a widely used industrial catalyst.
The mineral form of this compound, shcherbinaite, is extremely rare, almost always found among fumaroles. A mineral trihydrate, V2O5·3H2O, is also known under the name of navajoite.
V2O5 is an amphoteric oxide. Unlike most metal oxides, it dissolves slightly in water to give a pale yellow, acidic solution. Thus V2O5 reacts with strong non-reducing acids to form solutions containing the pale yellow salts containing dioxovanadium(V) centers:
V2O5 + 2 HNO3 → 2 VO2(NO3) + H2O
It also reacts with strong alkali to form polyoxovanadates, which have a complex structure that depends on pH. If excess aqueous sodium hydroxide is used, the product is a colourless salt, sodium orthovanadate, Na3VO4. If acid is slowly added to a solution of Na3VO4, the colour gradually deepens through orange to red before brown hydrated V2O5 precipitates around pH 2. These solutions contain mainly the ions HVO42− and V2O74− between pH 9 and pH 13, but below pH 9 more exotic species such as V4O124− and HV10O285− (decavanadate) predominate.
Technical grade V2O5 is produced as a black powder used for the production of vanadium metal and ferrovanadium. A vanadium ore or vanadium-rich residue is treated with sodium carbonate and an ammonium salt to produce sodium metavanadate, NaVO3. This material is then acidified to pH 2–3 using H2SO4 to yield a precipitate of "red cake" (see above). The red cake is then melted at 690 °C to produce the crude V2O5.
Vanadium(V) oxide is produced when vanadium metal is heated with excess oxygen, but this product is contaminated with other, lower oxides. A more satisfactory laboratory preparation involves the decomposition of ammonium metavanadate at 500-550 °C:
Another important use of vanadium(V) oxide is in the manufacture of sulfuric acid, an important industrial chemical with an annual worldwide production of 165 million metric tons in 2001, with an approximate value of US$8 billion. Vanadium(V) oxide serves the crucial purpose of catalysing the mildly exothermicoxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide by air in the contact process:
2 SO2 + O2 ⇌ 2 SO3
The discovery of this simple reaction, for which V2O5 is the most effective catalyst, allowed sulfuric acid to become the cheap commodity chemical it is today. The reaction is performed between 400 and 620 °C; below 400 °C the V2O5 is inactive as a catalyst, and above 620 °C it begins to break down. Since it is known that V2O5 can be reduced to VO2 by SO2, one likely catalytic cycle is as follows:
SO2 + V2O5 → SO3 + 2VO2
2VO2 +½O2 → V2O5
It is also used as catalyst in the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of NOx emissions in some power plants. Due to its effectiveness in converting sulfur dioxide into sulfur trioxide, and thereby sulfuric acid, special care must be taken with the operating temperatures and placement of a power plant's SCR unit when firing sulfur-containing fuels.
Proposed early steps in the vanadium-catalyzed oxidation of naphthalene to phthalic anhydride, with V2O5 represented as a molecule vs its true extended structure.
Maleic anhydride is produced by the V2O5-catalysed oxidation of butane with air:
Vanadium(V) oxide exhibits very modest acute toxicity to humans, with an LD50 of about 470 mg/kg. The greater hazard is with inhalation of the dust, where the LD50 ranges from 4–11 mg/kg for a 14-day exposure. Vanadate (VO3− 4), formed by hydrolysis of V2O5 at high pH, appears to inhibit enzymes that process phosphate (PO43−). However the mode of action remains elusive.
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^Shklover, V.; Haibach, T.; Ried, F.; Nesper, R.; Novak, P. (1996), "Crystal structure of the product of Mg2+ insertion into V2O5 single crystals", J. Solid State Chem., 123 (2): 317–23, doi:10.1006/jssc.1996.0186.
^ abcR. Robie, B. Hemingway, and J. Fisher, “Thermodynamic Properties of Minerals and Related Substances at 298.15K and 1bar Pressure and at Higher Temperatures,” US Geol. Surv., vol. 1452, 1978. 
^ abcGünter Bauer, Volker Güther, Hans Hess, Andreas Otto, Oskar Roidl, Heinz Roller, Siegfried Sattelberger "Vanadium and Vanadium Compounds" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a27_367
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