Rare Metal Investments – Rhenium

rare metal investments - Bismuth

Rhenium is in the D Basket.

Discovered in 1925, Rhenium was the last stable element to be discovered. It was named after the river Rhine in Europe.

It is generally considered to have been discovered by Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke, and Otto Berg in Germany. In 1925 they reported that they detected the element in platinum ore and in the mineral columbite. They also found Rhenium in gadonite and molybenite.

By 1968 it was estimated that 75% of Rhenium was used in research and development of refractory metal alloys. It took several years from that point before the alloys were widely used.

Today, nickel-based super alloys of Rhenium are used in the combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of commercial jet engines. In 2006 consumption by engine manufacturers alone was 28% for General Electric, 28% for Rolls Royce plc and 12% for Pratt and Whitney for use in super-alloys. These alloys contain up to 6% Rhenium, making jet engine construction the largest single use for the element, with chemical industry‘s catalytic uses being the next-most important.

The remaining 18% of Rhenium is used predominantly for the applications of platinum-rhenium catalysts, which are primarily used in producing lead-free high octane gasoline. Other applications include x-ray technology, self-cleaning electrical contacts, flash photo technology and the isotopes are used in the treatment of liver cancer.

Rhenium is also of critical strategic military importance, for its use in high performance military rocket and jet engines. Because of the low availability of this metal relative to the high demand, Rhenium is among the most expensive of the rare and strategic metals.


Element Symbol: Re
Atomic mass: 186.207 amu
Atomic radius: 193 pm
Density: 21.02 g/cm³
Colour: Grey
Melting point: 3,186 °C
Boiling point: 5,596 °C
Heat of evaporation: 705 kJ/mol
Annual production worldwide approx.: 50 t.


  • Stealth aircraft and military jet
  • Rocket engine manufacturing
  • Missile propulsion
  • Electrical contact material
  • Flash lamps in photography
  • Combustion chambers
  • Turbine blades and exhaust nozzles
  • High octane lead free gasoline
  • Liver cancer treatment