74W Tungsten

Year Discovered

1783

Discovered By

Juan Jose and Fausto Elhuijar of Spain

Biological Rating

Necessary for all life.

Description

Named from the Swedish word meaning “heavy stone,” tungsten is a gray-white metal that is stable and unaffected by air, acids or bases. It has the highest melting point of any metal and often is used in alloys that must resist great amounts of heat, such as light-bulb filaments. Tungsten also is used in television tubes, paints, high-temperature lubricants, tanning leather and fluorescent lighting. Tungsten is commonly alloyed with carbon forming tungsten carbide which has a very high melting point and increased hardness. It is used in high-strength applications, such as furnaces, missiles, dental drills and other cutting tools. The symbol for tungsten, W, comes from tungsten’s Latin name Wolfram. The Latin name is derived from the tungsten mineral wolframite.

Biological Benefits

Tungsten is used by a small number of enzymes in a fashion similar to molybdenum.

Role in Life Processes

Beneficial for full health in plants and animals.

Sources

It is chiefly obtained from the minerals scheelite and wolframite. Ferberite and huebnerite are other tungsten-bearing minerals. Tungsten is mined in China, Russia, Portugal, Austria and Bolivia. China is reported to have about 75% of the world’s tungsten supply.