Why Tungsten have a great impact on metals?
Years ago, lightbulbs in our houses would emanate an orange, mysterious glow. The soft glow was nothing but a reaction between electricity and tungsten filament. Now, however, LED bulbs have taken over, and the cozy warmth of that orange light has disappeared.
Does that mean tungsten is no longer in use today? Absolutely not.
Tungsten was largely mysterious until Spanish chemists, and mineralogists Juan José d'Elhuyar and Fausto d'Elhuyar examined the metal thoroughly.
They discovered an acid made from wolframite that seemed like tungstic acid. The brothers isolated the metal oxide from wolframite and then reduced it to tungsten metal by heating it with charcoal.
Tungsten is strong and durable, resistant to corrosion, and has the highest melting point and tensile strength of any element. These properties enable tungsten to be used in multiple settings.
Tungsten was first used in China to add a distinct peach color to porcelain. Though the metal is available in many countries, China continues to supply about 80 percent of the world's tungsten.
And for much of the 20th century, people didn't have to resort to lighting candles or employing the less efficient carbon filament lamps, thanks to the tungsten lightbulb, which was patented in 1904.
The Germans used the metal during World War One, which helped in exceeding their munition output from the Allies. Therefore, it was rather strange to find out that most of the tungsten had arrived from the British Cornish mines in Cornwall.
But the Germans' success with tungsten didn't stop with the war. An electrical bulb company had submitted a patent for tungsten carbide. Now, while tungsten refers to the individual metal, tungsten carbide is an alloy of tungsten and predominantly carbon. The only natural material the hard tungsten carbide can scratch is a diamond.
During the Second World War, the Germans were the first to use tungsten carbide core in their rounds. When enemy tanks were hit by these projectiles, they melted.
Fast forward to now, tungsten is found in its tungsten carbide form and steel alloys, which are used in the production of rocket engine nozzles.
Turbine blades and wear-resistant coatings contain super-alloys with Tungsten. Tungsten alloys are also used in automotive industries and radiation shielding.
Tungsten is also an excellent candidate for future fusion reactors due to its high melting temperature and good heat conductivity properties.
Though tungsten had humble beginnings, it could transform the way how we provide power to the world.