Rare Metal Investments – Tungsten

rare metal investments - Bismuth

Tungsten is in the C & D Baskets.

Tungsten has a patchwork history, dating back to medieval German and Swedish smelters. The name Tungsten is derived from the Swedish words “tung sten”, meaning “heavy stone”. Its chemical symbol, W, is derived from the German Wolfram, the old name of the Tungsten mineral Wolframite.

One theory behind the name Wolfram was that it was named from wolf rahm (wolf froth or cream), a reference to the large amount of tin that was devoured when the Tungsten was smelted.

In 1781, a self-made chemist and scientist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and Torbern Bergman, a Swedish chemist and mineralogist, suggested it might be possible to obtain a new metal by reducing tungstic acid.

Two years later, in 1783, Jose and Fausto Elhuyar were the first to isolate Tungsten through the reduction of this acid with charcoal. For this reason, they are credited with the discovery of this element.

Tungsten is mainly used in the production of hard materials based on Tungsten carbide, one of the hardest carbides. Tungsten carbide is used to make wear-resistant abrasives used by the metalworking, woodworking, mining, petroleum and construction industries and accounts for about 60% of current Tungsten consumption. Less than 10% is used in chemical compounds.

Tungsten, usually alloyed with Nickel and Iron or Cobalt to form heavy alloys, is used in kinetic energy penetrators as an alternative to depleted Uranium, in applications where Uranium’s additional pyrophoric properties are not required.

Specifications

Element Symbol: W
Atomic mass: 183.84 amu
Atomic radius: 193 pm
Density: 19.25 g/cm³
Colour: Grey
Melting point: 3,422 °C
Boiling point: 5,555 °C
Heat of evaporation: 806.7 kJ/mol
Annual production worldwide approx.: 38,000 t.

Application

  • Light bulbs
  • Armaments
  • Arc welding and die cast tooling
  • Rotor blades
  • Radioactive shielding
  • Jet engines and fly wheels