[Xe] 4f145d46s2
182W, 184W, 186W
2, 8, 18, 32, 12, 2
3414°C, 6177°F, 3687 K
5555°C, 10031°F, 5828 K
Juan and Fausto Elhuyar
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Tungsten, prized for its substantial weight, finds application in the heads of certain golf clubs to lower the center of gravity. This enhances the consistency of ball strikes, imparting increased speed and an improved trajectory.


A shiny, silvery-white metal.


Tungsten: The Heavyweight Champion in Modern Applications

In the world of materials science and industry, few elements rival the versatility and significance of Tungsten (W). Known for its remarkable density and robust properties, tungsten has earned its place as a heavyweight champion in various applications across different sectors. From the production of cutting-edge electronics to its role in heavy-duty manufacturing, tungsten stands tall as a critical element in modern technology. Let's explore the diverse and indispensable uses of tungsten that make it an essential player in shaping our contemporary world.


1. Electronics and Electrical Devices

Tungsten's conductivity and heat resistance make it a key player in the electronics industry. The miniature world of semiconductors and integrated circuits benefits from tungsten's application in thin films and wiring. Tungsten wires are also commonly used in electronics for their ability to withstand high temperatures and provide stable electrical conductivity, ensuring the reliability and efficiency of electronic devices.


2. Lighting and Filament Technology

Tungsten's high melting point and durability shine in the realm of lighting. Incandescent light bulbs have long relied on tungsten filaments to produce light through electrical resistance. Tungsten's ability to withstand extreme temperatures ensures the longevity of these filaments, making it an enduring choice in lighting technology.


3. Aerospace and Defense

Tungsten's density and resistance to extreme conditions have secured its place in the aerospace and defense sectors. Tungsten alloys, known for their high density and strength, are used in aerospace components, such as rocket nozzles and guidance systems. In the defense industry, tungsten's density makes it a preferred choice for armor-piercing projectiles and ammunition.


4. Medical Applications

Tungsten's radiopacity, or the ability to block X-rays, makes it invaluable in medical imaging. Tungsten alloys are used in X-ray collimators, shielding, and other medical equipment to enhance the precision and clarity of diagnostic imaging. Additionally, tungsten is employed in the production of radiation shielding materials for the medical field.


5. Automotive Industry

Tungsten's density and durability find applications in the automotive sector, particularly in the manufacturing of high-performance components. Tungsten alloys contribute to the production of heavy-duty tools, such as drill bits and cutting tools used in the automotive manufacturing process. Tungsten's toughness makes it a reliable choice for components subjected to intense wear and pressure.


6. Mining and Drilling

Tungsten carbide, a compound of tungsten and carbon, is renowned for its hardness and wear resistance. This makes it a primary material in the production of cutting tools, drill bits, and mining equipment. Tungsten carbide's ability to withstand abrasion and maintain sharp edges contributes to its widespread use in the mining and drilling industries.


7. Renewable Energy Technologies

Tungsten's role extends to the realm of renewable energy, where it plays a crucial part in technologies such as wind turbines. Tungsten alloys are used in the manufacturing of turbine blades, benefiting from tungsten's high strength and resistance to corrosion. This application ensures the efficiency and longevity of wind turbines, contributing to the growth of sustainable energy solutions.


8. Consumer Goods and Jewelry

Tungsten's durability and resistance to scratches make it a popular choice in the production of consumer goods and jewelry. Tungsten carbide, often used in the creation of rings and accessories, provides a lustrous and long-lasting alternative to traditional materials. Tungsten jewelry is appreciated for its modern aesthetics and ability to maintain its appearance over time.


9. Nuclear Applications

Tungsten's ability to absorb radiation makes it a valuable material in nuclear applications. Tungsten alloys are employed in radiation shielding for nuclear reactors and medical facilities, ensuring the safety of personnel and equipment. Tungsten's robust properties make it a reliable choice in environments where radiation protection is paramount.


10. Sports Equipment

In the realm of sports, tungsten's density finds an unconventional but essential application in golf clubs. Tungsten inserts or weights are strategically placed in the heads of some golf clubs to lower the center of gravity. This enhances the consistency of ball strikes, providing golfers with increased speed and a more favorable trajectory.



Tungsten's remarkable properties have propelled it into a multitude of industries, where its density, durability, and resistance to extreme conditions make it an invaluable asset. From the intricacies of electronics to the robust demands of aerospace and mining, tungsten continues to prove its worth as a heavyweight champion in modern applications. As technology advances and industries evolve, tungsten's versatility ensures its enduring role in shaping the technologies and innovations that define our contemporary world.


The story of Tungsten (W) is one that unfolds through centuries of scientific inquiry, alchemical exploration, and the determination to unlock the mysteries of the material world. As one of the densest elements known to humanity, tungsten has a history that traces back to ancient civilizations, marked by fascinating discoveries and the evolution of its role in shaping various industries. Join us as we embark on a journey through time, exploring the captivating history of Tungsten, from its early recognition to its indispensable status in modern applications.


1. Antiquity and Early Alchemy

Tungsten's story begins in antiquity, where early civilizations had encounters with minerals containing tungsten without realizing its unique properties. The mineral wolframite, one of the primary sources of tungsten, was often confused with other ores due to its similar appearance, hindering its recognition as a distinct element.


2. Scheelite's Discovery

The true understanding of tungsten's distinct characteristics came in the 18th century with the discovery of scheelite, another tungsten-containing mineral. Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele played a pivotal role in isolating tungstic acid from scheelite in 1781. However, the element's isolation remained elusive, and its true nature remained obscured.


3. Identification and Naming

The next chapter in tungsten's history unfolded in 1783 when the element was identified by Spanish chemists Juan Jose and Fausto Elhuyar. They successfully isolated tungsten from wolframite, marking the first time tungsten stood alone as a distinct element. The Elhuyar brothers named the newfound element "wolfram," a term still used in some parts of the world. The name "tungsten" emerged later, derived from the Swedish words "tung sten," meaning "heavy stone."


4. The Challenge of Reduction

Despite its recognition as a distinct element, the reduction of tungsten from its ores presented a formidable challenge to early chemists. Its extremely high melting point and resistance to reduction posed obstacles to obtaining the pure metal, delaying its widespread use in various applications.


5. Industrial Revolution and Tungsten Alloys

The 19th century marked the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and tungsten began to find its place in industry. Tungsten alloys, particularly those with steel, gained attention for their strength and hardness. The alloys were used in various applications, including the production of cutting tools and armor-piercing ammunition, contributing to the burgeoning industrial landscape.


6. Tungsten in the Twentieth Century

The early 20th century witnessed a surge in the application of tungsten, driven by advancements in metallurgy and technology. Tungsten carbide, a compound of tungsten and carbon, emerged as a revolutionary material due to its hardness and wear resistance. This compound found applications in cutting tools, mining equipment, and eventually, as a critical component in the burgeoning field of electronics.


7. Tungsten in World War II

Tungsten's strategic importance reached new heights during World War II. Its alloys played a vital role in manufacturing military equipment, from heavy artillery to aircraft components. Tungsten's robust properties proved indispensable in the production of tools and machinery that contributed to the war effort.


8. Tungsten in Electronics

The latter half of the 20th century saw tungsten carve a niche for itself in the electronics industry. Tungsten's high melting point and stability made it an ideal material for thin films and wiring in semiconductors. As electronic devices became smaller and more complex, tungsten's contributions to the world of microelectronics became increasingly vital.


9. Tungsten Today

In the 21st century, tungsten stands as a cornerstone in various industries, from aerospace to renewable energy. Its alloys continue to be crucial in cutting-edge technologies, including the production of turbine blades for wind energy and the development of advanced drilling equipment for mining and exploration.


10. Ethical Mining Concerns

The demand for tungsten, coupled with its association with conflict regions, has raised ethical concerns surrounding its mining practices. Efforts to ensure responsible sourcing, often referred to as "conflict-free tungsten," have become essential to address social and environmental issues linked to its production.



Tungsten's history is a tale of discovery, innovation, and adaptation to the evolving needs of humanity. From ancient civilizations' early encounters with tungsten-containing minerals to its crucial role in modern technologies, tungsten has proven to be a resilient and indispensable element. As we navigate the complexities of the present and gaze toward the future, tungsten's legacy continues to unfold, cementing its place as a heavyweight contributor to the progress of science, industry, and technology.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.18
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 78.757
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.50
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 1.7
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
758.764 1553.4 - - - - - -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
180W 179.947 0.12 1.8 x 1018 y α
182W 181.948 26.5 > 7.7 x 1021 y α
183W 182.950 14.31 > 4.1 x 1021 y α
184W 183.951 30.64 > 8.9 x 1021 y α
186W 185.954 28.43 > 8.2 x 1021 y α

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 9.5
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 1
Recycle Rate (%): 10–30
Production Conc.(%) : 84
Top 3 Producers:
1) China
2) Russia
3) Bolivia
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) China
2) Russia
3) USA
Substitutability: High
Political Stability of Top Producer: 24.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 24.1

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 132
Shear Modulus: 160.6
Young Modulus: 411.0
Bulk Modulus: 311.0
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - - 2.62 x 10-10 3.01 x 10-8 311.0



Welcome Dear listeners, to another episode of "Talking About Elements," the podcast that explores the fascinating world of chemical elements. Today, we're diving deep into the world of Tungsten.

Tungsten, with its atomic number 74 and symbol W, has a history that stretches back centuries. Its name comes from the Swedish words "tung sten," which mean "heavy stone." Tungsten was first isolated in 1781 by two Spanish chemists, Juan Jose and Fausto Elhuyar, although its existence had been observed in mineral ores before.

Tungsten's dense, robust properties sparked curiosity and experimentation, leading to a deeper understanding of its potential applications.

Tungsten is a remarkable element with several standout properties.

Tungsten boasts the highest melting point of any element at a scorching 3,422 degrees Celsius (6,192 degrees Fahrenheit). This property makes it an ideal choice for high-temperature applications.

Tungsten is incredibly dense, making it suitable for applications where weight is a critical factor, such as aerospace components.

It is exceptionally strong and durable, making it ideal for high-stress environments.

Tungsten is not as abundant as some other elements, making up only about 0.001% of the Earth's crust. It is primarily found in the mineral scheelite, as well as in wolframite. Major Tungsten deposits can be found in China, Russia, Canada, and various countries in Africa.

The extraction process involves mining these ores, concentrating the Tungsten content, and converting it into Tungsten trioxide (WO3), a precursor for Tungsten production.

The production of Tungsten involves several intricate steps:

Tungsten ores are mined from deposits around the world.

The ores are crushed and chemically processed to extract Tungsten trioxide.

Tungsten trioxide is then reduced to Tungsten metal through a process called hydrogen reduction.

The resulting Tungsten metal is further purified to remove impurities.

Tungsten's exceptional properties render it indispensable across a wide array of industries:

Tungsten is used in the aerospace industry for manufacturing components like rocket nozzles, aircraft engines, and ballast weights due to its high melting point and density.


Tungsten is employed in the production of electrical contacts, wiring, and semiconductors, contributing to the functionality of various electronic devices.

Tungsten was historically used in incandescent light bulbs, where its high melting point allowed for the creation of bright, long-lasting light.

Tungsten alloys are used in armor-piercing ammunition, providing exceptional penetration capabilities.

Tungsten is utilized in medical imaging and radiation therapy equipment due to its ability to block X-rays and gamma rays.

While Tungsten has numerous benefits, mining and processing it can have environmental repercussions. Responsible sourcing and recycling are essential to mitigate these impacts and ensure a sustainable supply.

Tungsten continues to play a crucial role in modern innovations. Researchers are exploring new applications in fields like renewable energy, where Tungsten could contribute to more efficient solar cells and hydrogen production.

The demand for Tungsten is expected to grow as technology advances, especially in aerospace, electronics, and clean energy. Sustainable mining practices and recycling will be pivotal in meeting this demand while minimizing environmental consequences.

Tungsten, the heavy stone, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and exploration. Its remarkable properties have shaped industries and enabled technological progress in ways we often take for granted.

As we appreciate its historical journey, celebrate its myriad of applications, and look to a future where Tungsten continues to play a pivotal role, we're reminded that even the heaviest of stones can be a foundation for innovation and progress.

Thank you for joining us on this exploration of the element Tungsten on "Talking About Elements."


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