Discovery of Tungsten
The Discovery of Tungsten: A Milestone in History
The fascinating history of tungsten dates back to the 18th century, when this unique element was first discovered and isolated. Its origins can be traced to the minerals Scheelite and Wolframite, which were found to contain a new metal with remarkable properties. Over the years, key figures in the field of chemistry and metallurgy played crucial roles in understanding and harnessing the potential of tungsten.
Who Discovered Tungsten
Tungsten was officially discovered by Spanish chemists Juan José and Fausto Elhuyar in 1783, while based at the Seminary at Vergara, in Spain. On September 28, 1783, the Elhuyar brothers successfully isolated tungsten by reducing tungstic oxide derived from Wolframite through charcoal reduction.
Where in the World was Tungsten Discovered?
In Sweden, in the year 1750, our history of tungsten began to take shape. Swedish mineralogist and chemist Axel Frederik Cronstedt made a significant discovery while working in the Bispberg's iron mine located in the Swedish province of Dalecarlia. He came across a heavy mineral with exceptional weight relative to its size, and an extremely high density, which was close to 6. Recognizing that this mineral was unique and distinct from others known at the time, he decided to give it a name that would reflect its most striking characteristic. He chose the name 'Tungsten', a term derived from the Swedish language that translates to 'heavy stone'. The origin of the name tungsten and its connection to the heavy, tungsten containing minerals can be traced back even further
Cronstedt's work in 1750 set the stage for these later developments, and his initial discovery of Tungsten remains a significant contribution to the field of chemistry and mineralogy. His fascination with this heavy mineral led to further exploration and understanding of its properties, ultimately paving the way for its widespread use in various industries today.
Key Figures in Tungsten's Discovery
Peter Woulfe was studying a mineral known as wolframite when he made his notable observation. Wolframite is a rich source of tungsten, although this wasn't known at the time. Woulfe was examining the mineral in 1779 when he detected the presence of a new substance. He conducted a series of experiments on the mineral, using acid treatments to break it down and analyze its components.
In his experiments, Woulfe noticed that when he treated the mineral with acid, it produced a peculiar kind of "heavy stone" or "heavy earth", which he deduced must be a new kind of material. This was the first recognition of what we now know as tungsten.
However, it's important to note that while Woulfe was the first to recognize the presence of a new substance in wolframite, he did not identify it as a new element. The actual isolation of tungsten as an element wouldn't happen until several years later, carried out by Spanish scientists Juan José and Fausto Elhuyar in 1783.
Peter Woulfe's initial recognition of tungsten was a significant moment in the history of chemistry. It set the stage for further investigation into wolframite and ultimately led to the discovery of one of the most important elements in modern industry and technology.
The Discovery of Tungsten in Scheelite
In 1781, Swedish chemists Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Torbern Bergman produced tungstic acid from scheelite, marking the first isolation of tungsten from a naturally occurring mineral. Scheele heated powdered scheelite with hydrochloric acid, producing a yellow precipitate that he determined to be an unknown acid, which was later named tungstic acid.
Tungstic acid is a yellow, crystalline solid that is soluble in water and alkalis but insoluble in most acids. It was the first compound of tungsten to be identified and provided the foundation for further research into the properties and potential uses of this important metal. This was a major milestone in identifying tungsten as a new element.
Scheele published his findings in a renowned scientific journal, "Chemical Observations on Tungsten and Molybdenite." His publication detailed the isolation and identification of tungsten metal, providing a profound understanding of its chemical nature and characteristics.
Overall, Carl Wilhelm Scheele's contributions to the study of tungsten were pivotal, and laid the groundwork for future researchers.. His discovery of tungstic acid helped to unravel the complex nature of this heavy mineral and opened the door for the eventual isolation and use of tungsten as a distinct metal. His meticulous work exemplifies the process of scientific discovery and the incremental nature of knowledge advancement in the field of chemistry.
The Pioneers Behind the Tungsten Discovery: Who Found Tungsten?
The discovery of tungsten was an event of profound significance, largely credited to the pioneering work of two Spanish brothers, Juan and Fausto Elhuyar. Their groundbreaking method of isolating tungsten from its ores etched their names in the annals of scientific history.
In 1783, upon returning to Spain, the D'Elhuyar brothers focused their research efforts on extending the work of Scheele and Bergman. They chose to analyze a wolframite specimen from a tin mine in Zinnwald/Saxony. Fascinatingly, this mineral yielded an acid identical to the tungstic acid described by the Swedes. This intriguing connection between the two minerals fueled the curiosity of the D'Elhuyar brothers, leading them deeper into their exploration of tungsten.
The Discovery of Tungsten in Wolframite
On September 28, 1783, after reduction with coal, the Elhuyar brothers successfully isolated tungsten metal by reducing tungstic oxide derived from Wolframite through charcoal reduction. This new metal, which they originally called wolfram, is more commonly known today as tungsten.
The Elhuyars' process of heating tungsten trioxide with carbon or hydrogen gas to form tungsten metal remained a fundamental step in producing tungsten until the late 19th century. This method revolutionized our understanding of metal extraction from ores and set the stage for subsequent innovations in metallurgy. Their groundbreaking work was published in the "Analysis quimico del volfram, y examen de un Nuevo metal" by the Royal Society of Friends of the Country in the City of Victoria.