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TUNGSTEN

  • Tungsten
  • Mines Producing Tungsten

Also Known As : Wolfram

The chemical element, tungten, is also known as wolfram, which accounts for its chemical symbol being 'W.' It is a hard rare metal that was first isolated as such in 1783. Its ores comprise both scheelite and wolframite. As a free element, tungsten is remarkably robust especially considering the fact that its melting point is the highest of all the elements. Its density is close to that of gold and uranium and far higher than that of lead. When it contains minor amounts of impurities it is often found to be hard and brittle, a feature that makes it difficult to work. However, when in a pure state, tungsten, although still hard, is far more ductile that makes it possible to be cut with a hard steel hacksaw.


Tungsten has many uses, some of these include:
- Filaments used in incandescent light bulbs
- Target and filaments in X-ray tubes
- In producing super alloys, as small amounts of tungsten alloyed with steel greatly increased its toughness
- Wear resistant abrasives
- Cutting surfaces on knives and drills, circular saws, turning and milling tools used in metalworking and woodworking
- In the construction, petroleum and mining industry
- Military applications such at the tips of penetrating projectiles
- The jewellery industry uses sintered tungsten for the making of rings
- High density weights, counter weights, ballast keels for yachts, tail ballast for aircraft and ballast in racing cars
- 2012 Mars Science Laboratory vehicle entry portion
- Riveting dolly
- High quality darts
- Fishing lures
- Strings on musical instruments


Although tungsten carbide is referred to by manufacturers such as jewellers as being a metal, it is actually a ceramic. Rings made from tungsten carbide are extremely resistant to abrasion and will hold a burnished finish far longer than metallic tungsten, although, tungsten carbide rings are susceptible to breaking if given a sharp blow because of their brittleness.


Tungsten, when being separated from its ore is converted to tungsten oxide. This product is heated with either carbon or hydrogen to produce powdered tungsten. Owing to the fact that tungsten has such a high melting point it is not feasible to cast the tungsten into ingots. Instead, the powdered tungsten is mixed with small amounts of powdered nickel, or other metals, and sintered. It is during the sintering process that the nickel diffuses into the tungsten and forms the alloy.


In its raw form tungsten is a very hard steel grey metal that is quite brittle. It has to be reduced to its pure form before it becomes malleable enough to be worked by either extruding, drawing or forging, otherwise, tungsten objects it have be formed through the sintering process.


As at December 2011 Australia had resources of 376 kilotonnes of tungsten held in deposits on King Island and at Mount Lindsay and Kara in Tasmania, Watershed in Queensland, Mount Mulgine, Big Hill and O'Callaghans in Western Australia and Molyhil in the Northern Territory. Western Australia holds over 60 percent of Australia's known tungsten resource, Tasmania has 22 percent and Queensland has 14 percent.
 

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