TUNGSTEN - 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 Metal Powder Coarse

Properties of tungsten

Tungsten is characterized by special physical and chemical properties:

  • Heat resistance: After carbon, tungsten has the highest melting point of all elements of 3422°C. It has a boiling point of around 5,700°C. With these properties, the metal can withstand high temperatures and smelting and in addition has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion
  • Resistance: Tungsten also has high resistance to acids. Even hydrofluoric acid and aqua regia are hardly able to attack tungsten at room temperature
  • Density: 19.3 g/cm³; the density of tungsten in the pure state is almost as high as that of gold

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 as
    high-performance switching contacts or electrodes

  • Tungsten chemicals such as e.g. wolframates are essential components used in catalysts in crude oil refining

History

Tungsten was first discovered in the Middle Ages in the reduction of tin in the Ore Mountains. At first, it was considered to be an unwanted by-element. In the 16th century, Georgius Agricola noticed that certain ores, such as tin ores, were in a position to form slags which did not allow the further extraction of tin. For this reason, the German scientist called these ores “lupi spumen” (lat. Wolf's spit). Later on, the designation wolframite emerged on account of this. In 1783, two students of the German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele succeeded in the production of very impure tungsten metal by the reduction of the oxide with carbon. The two brothers Fausto and Juan José Elhuyar are considered today the actual discoverers of tungsten. Chemically pure tungsten was not produced until some years later by reduction of the oxide with hydrogen under heat.

Occurrence

The occurrence of tungsten in the earth's crust is very low (about 0.0064% by weight). The most important tungsten ores are wolframite and scheelite. China is by far the world's largest tungsten producer, which also has the biggest deposits. In addition to China, Russia and Canada are significant producing countries.

Tungsten processing since 1889

H.C. Starck possesses more than 120 years of experience in the production of tungsten – we have been processing tungsten industrially since 1889. We offer this long-standing and unique technical expertise to serve our customers for the manufacture of customized tungsten products. We are able to satisfy special customer requirements regarding particle size, surface size, grain size, consistency or component characteristics very exactly.

The name H.C. Starck stands for consistently high product quality, technical expertise, customer orientation and high level of material availability. With modern equipment and methods, H.C. Starck produces a broad portfolio of tungsten powders and tungsten product components, which can be tailored exactly to match almost any customer-specific task. For more information, select the desired product below.

Secured supply of raw materials

In order to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, we depend upon the use of secondary raw materials in our production processes. We are world leaders in the recycling of tungsten: thanks to innovative tungsten recycling processes, we are in a position to recover pure tungsten from almost any scrap tungsten materials and tungsten-containing production residues. According to the “closed-loop” principle, almost all our products and compounds can be recycled after use.

In addition to secondary raw materials, we also use primary raw materials in our production. We work with strict purchasing policies, which ensure that our raw materials originate from suppliers who comply with strict environmental protection requirements, observe occupational health and safety regulations and show social responsibility. An important building block for the supply of primary raw materials will be represented by our joint venture with the Vietnamese Nui Phao Mining Company in the future: the joint venture will ensure the supply of primary raw materials independently of political and legal restrictions in the long-term.