[Xe] 4f145d56s2
2, 8, 18, 32, 13, 2
3185°C, 5765°F, 3458 K
5590°C, 10094°F, 5863 K
Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke and Otto Berg
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Superalloys containing rhenium, based on nickel, find applications in the combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines.


A metal with a very high melting point. Tungsten is the only metallic element with a higher melting point.


Rhenium: The Unseen Force Powering High-Performance Industries

Nestled within the depths of the periodic table, Rhenium (Re) stands as a rare and remarkable element, often overlooked but crucial to the advancement of various high-performance industries. With its unique properties and capabilities, rhenium plays a discreet yet indispensable role in applications ranging from aerospace engineering to medical technology. Join us as we uncover the diverse and often unseen uses of rhenium, the unsung hero behind the scenes of modern technological marvels.


1. Aerospace Engineering

Rhenium's exceptional resistance to extreme temperatures and mechanical stress positions it as a linchpin in aerospace engineering. One of its primary applications lies in the production of nickel-based superalloys. These superalloys, which incorporate rhenium, find their way into critical components of jet engines, such as combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles. The ability of rhenium to enhance the high-temperature stability and strength of these alloys ensures the reliability and efficiency of aircraft propulsion systems.


2. Gas Turbines and Jet Engines

The demanding conditions within gas turbines and jet engines necessitate materials that can withstand intense heat and stress. Rhenium's incorporation into turbine blades and other components contributes to their ability to endure extreme temperatures and mechanical forces. This makes rhenium a key player in the development of advanced propulsion systems, ensuring the performance and safety of aviation and aerospace technologies.


3. Catalysts in Petrochemical Processes

Rhenium finds applications in the petrochemical industry as a catalyst, facilitating various chemical processes. Its catalytic properties make it valuable in processes such as hydrocracking, where complex hydrocarbons are broken down into more useful products. Rhenium catalysts enhance the efficiency of these reactions, leading to the production of valuable fuels and chemicals used in diverse industrial applications.


4. Medical Imaging Devices

The unique radiation-blocking properties of rhenium make it a vital component in the field of medical imaging. Rhenium alloys are employed in the production of collimators used in gamma cameras and X-ray imaging devices. These collimators shape and direct radiation beams, enhancing the precision and clarity of medical imaging, particularly in applications such as nuclear medicine.


5. Electronics and Semiconductors

Rhenium's role extends to the realm of electronics and semiconductor manufacturing. Rhenium is utilized in the production of thin films and conductive coatings for electronic components. Its ability to adhere well to substrates and resist oxidation makes rhenium an ideal material for applications requiring stable and reliable electrical conductivity, contributing to the miniaturization and performance of electronic devices.


6. X-Ray Tubes in Medical Diagnosis

In medical diagnostics, rhenium is utilized in X-ray tubes, contributing to the generation of high-quality X-ray images. Rhenium's ability to withstand the high temperatures generated during X-ray production makes it a preferred material for the anodes of these tubes, ensuring their durability and efficiency in medical imaging processes.


7. High-Temperature Thermocouples

Rhenium's exceptional resistance to heat and corrosion makes it suitable for the construction of high-temperature thermocouples. These devices are essential for measuring temperature in extreme environments, such as industrial furnaces and aerospace applications. Rhenium-based thermocouples provide accurate and reliable temperature readings under conditions where traditional materials might fail.


8. Superalloys in Industrial Furnaces

Beyond aerospace, rhenium's inclusion in superalloys finds applications in industrial furnaces. These furnaces, which operate at extremely high temperatures, benefit from the high-temperature stability and durability that rhenium imparts to the alloys. The use of rhenium-enhanced superalloys ensures the longevity and efficiency of industrial processes that rely on high-temperature heating.


9. Nuclear Engineering

Rhenium's unique properties make it a valuable element in nuclear engineering. Rhenium-188, a radioactive isotope of rhenium, is used in nuclear medicine for therapeutic applications. Its ability to emit beta particles makes it suitable for targeted radiation therapy, particularly in the treatment of certain types of cancer.


10. Emerging Technologies

As technology advances, rhenium continues to play a role in emerging fields. Its properties are explored for potential applications in areas such as quantum computing, advanced materials science, and next-generation energy technologies. The versatility of rhenium positions it as a material of interest in the ongoing quest for innovative solutions to complex technological challenges.



Rhenium, though often overshadowed by more well-known elements, emerges as a silent force driving progress in high-performance industries. From the skies above, where it fortifies the engines of aircraft, to the intricate world of medical diagnostics and electronics, rhenium's unique properties make it an unsung hero in the realm of modern technology. As industries continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, rhenium stands poised to play an increasingly vital role in shaping the future of high-performance applications.


In the intricate tapestry of the periodic table, Rhenium (Re) stands as a relatively obscure but invaluable element, quietly contributing to the advancement of various industries. The history of Rhenium is a tale of discovery, persistence, and the evolution of its role from relative obscurity to indispensable contributions in aerospace, medical technology, and beyond. Join us as we trace the captivating timeline of Rhenium, from its initial recognition to the pivotal role it plays in shaping our modern technological landscape.


1. Early Encounters and Confusion

The first whispers of Rhenium's presence date back to the late 18th century. In 1782, two German chemists, Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein and Karl Wilhelm Scheele, independently isolated an unidentified substance from platinum ores. Unfortunately, the properties of this mysterious element went unrecognized, and it was overshadowed by the more well-known elements of the time.


2. Isolation by the River

The element's journey took a significant turn in 1925 when two German scientists, Ida Tacke and Walter Noddack, revisited the platinum group of metals. In a groundbreaking achievement, they successfully isolated and identified the missing element, naming it Rhenium after the Latin name for the Rhine River. This discovery marked the official recognition of Rhenium as a distinct element, and its place in the periodic table was solidified.


3. Early Challenges in Isolation

The isolation of Rhenium posed considerable challenges due to its association with other platinum group metals. Separating it from its companions required innovative techniques and a deep understanding of chemical properties. The recognition of Rhenium as a separate entity opened the door to further exploration of its unique characteristics.


4. World War II and Strategic Significance

Rhenium's importance escalated during World War II, as its properties proved strategically significant. The alloying capabilities of Rhenium with tungsten created superalloys essential for high-temperature applications in jet engines and military equipment. The demand for these high-performance materials surged, highlighting Rhenium's role in advancing aerospace technology.


5. Post-War Industrial Applications

In the post-war era, Rhenium continued to leave its mark on industry. Its remarkable properties, including high melting points and resistance to corrosion, found applications in the production of high-temperature thermocouples and catalysts for petrochemical processes. As industrial processes advanced, Rhenium's versatility positioned it as a material of choice in various demanding applications.


6. Aerospace Revolution

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed a revolution in aerospace technology, and Rhenium played a crucial role. Nickel-based superalloys containing Rhenium became standard in the construction of components for jet engines. Rhenium's ability to enhance the stability and strength of these alloys contributed to the efficiency and reliability of aircraft propulsion systems.


7. Nuclear Medicine and Therapeutic Uses

Rhenium's journey took an unexpected turn in the field of nuclear medicine. The radioactive isotope Rhenium-188 was discovered to emit beta particles, leading to its application in therapeutic procedures for certain types of cancer. Rhenium-188-based treatments, such as radioisotope therapy, showcased the element's potential in advancing medical technologies.


8. The Quest for Ethical Mining

As Rhenium's importance grew, so did the need for responsible sourcing. Concerns over ethical mining practices led to initiatives aimed at ensuring the extraction of Rhenium and other valuable elements without contributing to conflicts or environmental degradation. The quest for ethical mining practices, often referred to as "conflict-free Rhenium," became integral to addressing sustainability concerns.


9. Rhenium in the 21st Century

As we enter the 21st century, Rhenium continues to play a crucial role in technological advancements. Its application extends to emerging fields such as quantum computing, materials science, and renewable energy technologies. Rhenium's unique properties make it a material of interest in the ongoing pursuit of innovative solutions to complex challenges.


10. The Unsung Hero of Modern Technology

Rhenium, once an overlooked element, has transformed into an unsung hero in modern technology. Its journey from obscurity to indispensability reflects the dynamic nature of scientific exploration and the ever-evolving needs of industry. As we navigate the complexities of the present and envision the technological landscapes of the future, Rhenium stands poised to continue its silent but impactful contribution to progress and innovation.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.16
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 14.47
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.41
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 1.9
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
755.82 - - - - - - -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
185Re 184.953 37.4 - -
187Re 186.956 62.6 4.16 x 1010 y β-

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 6.2
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 0.000188
Recycle Rate (%): >30
Production Conc.(%) : 51
Top 3 Producers:
1) Chile
2) USA
3) Poland
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) Chile
2) USA
3) Russia
Substitutability: High
Political Stability of Top Producer: 67.5
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 67.5

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 137
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
Bulk Modulus: Unknown
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - 1.37 x 10-10 2.22 x 10-8 1.41 x 10-6 Unknown



Welcome Dear listeners, to another exciting episode of "Talking About Elements," the podcast that delves deep into the world of chemistry and the elements that make up our universe. I'm your host, and today, we're going to explore the fascinating world of an element that might not be as well-known as others, but it plays a crucial role in various industries and technologies. Yes, we're talking about Rhenium!

Let's begin with the history of rhenium. Discovered in 1925 by the German chemists Ida Tacke and Walter Noddack, along with Otto Berg, rhenium filled a gap in the periodic table that had puzzled scientists for years. Its name is derived from the Latin word "Rhenus," which means the Rhine River, where the element's ore, columbite, was first discovered.

Rhenium's discovery was a significant breakthrough in the world of chemistry and contributed to a better understanding of the periodic table. It also marked the end of the search for missing elements in that region of the table.

Now, let's delve into the properties of rhenium. Rhenium is a rare, silvery-white metal that is incredibly dense and has one of the highest melting points of all elements, at approximately 5,766 degrees Fahrenheit (3,180 degrees Celsius). This exceptional melting point makes it ideal for use in high-temperature applications.

One of the most remarkable properties of rhenium is its resistance to corrosion and oxidation, even at extreme temperatures. This property makes it invaluable in industries where materials are subjected to harsh conditions.

Rhenium is quite rare in the Earth's crust, with an abundance of only about 1 part per billion. It's primarily found in conjunction with other metals like molybdenum and copper in sulfide ores. One of the largest sources of rhenium is in porphyry copper deposits, where it's often a byproduct of copper mining.

Extracting rhenium from these ores is a complex process that involves multiple steps, including roasting, leaching, and solvent extraction. Due to its rarity and the difficulty of extraction, rhenium commands a relatively high price in the market.

Now, let's talk about the production of rhenium. After extraction from its ores, rhenium is usually obtained as a powder or pellet. The metal is then purified through a process called hydrogen reduction, where it's heated in the presence of hydrogen gas to remove any impurities.


The purified rhenium can be further processed into various forms, including wires, sheets, and rods, depending on the intended application. Its high melting point and excellent ductility make it suitable for various manufacturing processes.

Rhenium might be relatively scarce, but it plays a critical role in several industries and technologies. Let's explore some of its fascinating applications.

Rhenium's exceptional heat resistance and mechanical strength make it an essential component in the production of aircraft and rocket engines. It's used in turbine blades, combustion chambers, and nozzles, where extreme temperatures and stress are encountered.

Rhenium catalysts are used in the petroleum industry for hydrocracking, a process that converts heavy hydrocarbons into valuable products like gasoline and diesel fuel. These catalysts enhance the efficiency of the refining process and help reduce environmental impact.

Rhenium is used in the production of filaments for mass spectrometers and X-ray machines due to its high melting point and electrical conductivity. It's also employed in electrical contacts, particularly in high-temperature applications.

Rhenium-188, a radioactive isotope of rhenium, is used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment. It emits beta radiation, which can be precisely targeted to destroy cancerous cells.

Rhenium-based thermocouples are utilized in high-temperature measurements, such as those required in industrial furnaces and aerospace applications. They provide accurate and reliable temperature readings even in extreme conditions.

Rhenium is used in the production of electrical contacts, switches, and connectors. Its resistance to wear and corrosion makes it ideal for these applications, where durability is crucial.

Rhenium coatings are applied to tungsten filaments in light bulbs and electron microscopes to increase their lifespan and efficiency. This allows for brighter and longer-lasting illumination.

In conclusion, rhenium may not be a household name, but its significance in various industries cannot be overstated. From powering aerospace technologies to enhancing petrochemical processes, rhenium's exceptional properties and versatility make it a truly remarkable element.

As we continue to advance technologically and explore new frontiers, rhenium's role in enabling innovation and pushing the boundaries of what's possible will only become more pronounced. So, the next time you hop on a plane, undergo a medical scan, or simply turn on a light bulb, remember that this unassuming element, rhenium, is working quietly behind the scenes to make it all happen.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the world of rhenium. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review. And don't forget to tune in next time as we uncover more fascinating stories about the elements that shape our world. Until then, stay curious and keep exploring the wonders of science.


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