A Metal of Superlatives

Tungsten (W) is one of the so-called transition metals with the atomic number 74. The shiny gray metal is in a solid state at room temperature.

Tungsten is a hard, rare metal, and is found naturally on Earth almost exclusively in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as a metal in 1783. Its important ores include wolframite and scheelite. The free element is remarkable for its robustness, especially the fact that it has the highest melting point of all the elements discovered, melting at 3422 °C (6192 °F, 3695 K). It also has the second highest boiling point, at 5930 °C (10706 °F, 6203 K). Its high density is 19.3 times that of water, comparable to that of uranium and gold, and much higher (about 1.7 times) than that of lead. Polycrystalline tungsten is an intrinsically brittle and hard material, making it difficult to work. However, pure single-crystalline tungsten is more ductile, and can be cut with a hard-steel hacksaw.

Areas of application

Thanks to its properties, tungsten is indispensable in many key industries:

  • The most important use of tungsten is that in the form of tungsten carbide. The exceptional hardness and resistance of tungsten carbide make it the material of choice for drilling and cutting tools, which are able to withstand even the most extreme loads
  • Due to its high density, components made of tungsten and tungsten alloys are used as counterweights in aircraft and helicopters
  • In medical measurement and X-ray equipment, tungsten serves as a lead replacement for radiation shielding
  • In the electrical industry, tungsten-copper composites play an essential role ashigh-performance switching contacts or electrodes
  • Tungsten chemicals such as e.g. wolframates are essential components used in catalysts in crude oil refining

Weight Calculators

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Tungsten Facts:

  • Symbol: W
  • Category: Transition Metal, Group VI
  • Atomic Number: 74
  • Density: 19.25 g / cm3
  • Melting Point: 3420 °C, highest metal, 2nd highest of elements
  • Discovered: 1781

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