Tungsten is a metallic chemical element classified among the transition metals of the periodic table of elements. In continental Europe, the chemical is often referred to by the alternative name of wolfram. That’s why its chemical symbol is W and not T or Tu. The element is well known for its strength and durability, which make it extremely useful in a wide range of industrial applications.
People have known about the existence of tungsten since at least the early 1700s, when observers noted that the metal interacted with tin. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as a metal in 1783. Its important ores include wolfram and sheltie. In 1784, the de Elhuyar brothers managed to isolate it in Spain, using tungstic acid extracted from wolframite.
The chemical is alloyed with steel to form tough metals that are stable at high temperatures. The worlds tungsten resources are scattered, many different countries control various amounts of it be- cause of how much is in their land. Western Europe controls 30% of the worlds total resources. North America and China both control 25%. Japan controls about 13% and the remaining resources are in smaller countries with only small mines.
This element is not found in a pure form in nature. If contaminated with other materials, tungsten becomes brittle and difficult to work with. It has the highest melting point and lowest vapor pressure of all metals. It also has excellent corrosion resistance and is not attacked easily by most mineral acids, so it is used a lot for glass-to-metal seals.
It forms compounds with calcium and magnesium that have phosphorescent properties and are used in fluorescent light bulbs. Tungsten carbide (WC) is an extremely hard compound. It is used in the tips of drill bits, high speed cutting tools and in mining machinery. Tungsten hexacarbonyl (also called tungsten carbonyl) is the chemical compound with the formula W(CO)6. This colorless compound, like its chromium and molybdenum analogs, is noteworthy as a volatile, air-stable derivative of tungsten in its zero oxidation state.
While tungsten tools can be expensive, many workers like them because of their durability and long lifetimes. One of the most famous uses of tungsten is as a filament in light bulbs. Tungsten is also used as a target for X-ray production, as heating elements in electric furnaces and for parts of spacecraft and missiles which must withstand high temperatures. Many structural metal alloys incorporate tungsten since the metal has an extremely high melting point, and the element is also used to make wear-resistant tools.