Timeline of tungsten

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This is a timeline of tungsten, attempting to describe historic events related to the discovery, science and industrial development of the metal.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
16th century Tungsten is first discovered in the 16th century in Saxony by tin miners, who find and then recognize the metal as a newly useful and undiscovered asset.[1][2]
18th century Chemists begin identifying the elements that make up mater. In this century tungsten is first isolated.[3]
20th century In the 1930s, new applications arise for tungsten compounds in the oil industry for the hydrotreating of crude oils. In the 1940s, during World War II, the Germans are the first to use tungsten carbide core in high velocity armor piercing projectiles. In the 1950s, tungsten is added into superalloys to improve performance. In the 1960s, new catalysts are born containing tungsten compounds to treat exhaust gases in the oil industry.[4]
21st century Currently, most tungsten resources are found in China, South Korea, Bolivia, Great Britain, Russia and Portugal, as well as in California and Colorado. About 80% of world’s supply is controlled by China.[5] Today, tungsten carbide is extremely widespread, with applications including metal cutting, machining of wood, plastics, composites, soft ceramics, chipless forming, mining, construction, rock drilling, structural parts, wear parts, and military components. Tungsten-steel alloys are used in the production of rocket engine nozzles, and superalloys containing tungsten are used in turbine blades and wear-resistant parts and coatings.[4]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Country/region
1556 Discovery German mineralogist Georgius Agricola notes a material he calls lupi spuma ("wolf's foam"), which in German is wolf rahm. The mineral ore is today known as wolframite and is one of the main sources of tungsten. This explains the symbol "W" for the element.[6] Germany
1750 Discovery Tungsten ore (now called scheelite) is discovered in the Bispberg´s iron mine in the Swedish province Dalecarlia.[7][8] Sweden
1757 Scientific development Swedish chemist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt describes a light heavy mineral. He names it “tung sten” in Swedish, meaning “heavy stone”.[9][2][10] Sweden
1779 Scientific development Irish chemist Peter Woulfe examines a mineral from Sweden and realizes it contains a new type of metal.[5][6]
1781 Scientific development German chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele continues the research on the new metal and isolates an acidic white oxide.[5][6] Scheele is the first to produce tungsten acid from tungsten ore.[9][11][2][12][10] Sweden
1781 Scientific development The name "tungsten" is suggested by chemist Tobern Bergman.[6] Sweden
1783 Scientific development Tungsten is first isolated by Spanish brothers Fausto Elhuyar and Juan José Elhuyar. They isolate the metal oxide from wolframite and reduce it to tungsten metal by heating it with carbon.[13][11][14] The brothers call the new metal wolfram.[3][10] Spain
1820 Scientific development One of the two economically important minerals of tungsten is named “wolframite” by German mineralogist August Breithaupt.[9]
1821 Scientific development German mineralogist Karl Cäsar von Leonhard proposes the name “Scheelite” for the mineral CaWO4, in honour of Carl Wilhelm Scheele.[9][2]
1847 Technology British Engineer Robert Oxland is granted a patent to prepare, form, and reduce tungsten to its metallic format.[1][2][10][15][16] United Kingdom
1847 Application Tungsten salts are used to make colored cotton and to make clothes used for theatrical and other purposes fireproof.[4]
1855 Application Austrian chemist Franz Koller develops a tungsten steel.[1][4][14] Austria
1857 Technology Robert Oxland patents his process for producing tungsten steel.[10] United Kingdom
1858 Application Steels containing tungsten begin to be produced.[1][2]
1868 Application Mushet starts to manufacture high-carbon-vanadium-manganese-tungsten steels in England.[14][7] United Kingdom
1895 Scientific development American inventor Thomas Edison finds that calcium tungstate is the substance with the best ability to fluoresce when exposed to X-rays.[4] United States
1900 Application A special mix of steel and tungsten is exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris.[4] France
1904 Application Several European inventors almost simultaneously develop lamp filaments made with the metal tungsten.[17] The first light bulbs using tungsten are patented in the year.[1][14][2]
1908 Application American physicist William D. Coolidge discovers that tungsten is an ideal filament material.[5] Coolidge invents a process for making tungsten filaments which (combined with other improvements) produce lamps two and a half times as efficient as those used before.[18][19][10] United States
1909 Technology Team led William D. Coolidge working at General Electric discover a process that creates ductile tungsten filaments through suitable heat treatment and mechanical working.[4][14][20][17][21] United States
1911 Application The Coolidge process is commercialized. In a short time, tungsten light bulbs would spread all over the world equipped with ductile tungsten wires.[4] United States
1922 Policy Tungsten is placed on the first official Government list of strategic minerals in the United States.[22] United States
1923 Application A German electrical bulb company submits a patent for tungsten carbide, or hardmetal. The carbide is made by "cementing" very hard tungsten monocarbide (WC) grains in a binder matrix of tough cobalt metal by liquid phase sintering. The resulting material combines high strenght, toughness and high hardness.[4] Germany
1927 Application The Krupp Laboratory at Essen, Germany, discovers that a serviceable product could be produced when the normally brittle tungsten carbide is mixed with a cemented material.[10] Germany
1940 – 1945 Application Tungsten becomes a strategic metal during World War II as its resistance to high temperatures and its strengthening of alloys make it an important raw material for the arms industry.[2]
1944 Book K C Li, founder of Wah Chang Corporation in the United States, publishes a picture in the Engineering & Mining Journal entitled: “40 Years Growth of the Tungsten Tree (1904 – 1944)” which illustrates the fast development of the various tungsten applications in the field of metallurgy and chemistry.[7] United States
1977 Production China is the biggest and most important tungsten ore concentrate supplier.[23] China
1979 Event The first International Tungsten Symposium is held in Stockholm.[24][25][26] Sweden
1993 Financial The price of tungsten reaches historical minimum, as a result of the collapse of the communist world together with a sudden fall in the worldwide tungsten consumption.[23]
1995 Production Two countries, China (69%), and the former Soviet Union (19%), account for over 80 percent of the world's production of tungsten.[27] China, Ex-USSR
2003 Application Ammonium paratungstate, ferrotungsten, tungsten carbonate, and tungsten oxide are major exported products from China.[28] China
2009 Application Tungsten filament bulbs start being phased out in the European Union.[29]

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "The History and Uses of Tungsten". larsonjewelers.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Tungsten > History". almonty.com. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rezende, Lisa. Chronology of Science. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 DESJARDINS, JEFF. "The History of Tungsten, the Strongest Natural Metal on Earth". visualcapitalist.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Facts About Tungsten". livescience.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Ede, Andrew. The Chemical Element: A Historical Perspective. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "HISTORY OF TUNGSTEN". itia.info. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  8. "tungsten mine". debouchage-wiame.be. Retrieved 27 August 2018. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "History". vitalmetals.com.au. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 "Tungsten processing". britannica.com. Retrieved 27 August 2018. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Hard Facts about Tungsten". mi-techmetals.com. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  12. History of Chemistry. 
  13. DK. 1000 Inventions and Discoveries. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Rollinson, Carl L. The Chemistry of Chromium, Molybdenum and Tungsten: Pergamon International Library of Science, Technology, Engineering and Social Studies. 
  15. Percy, John. Metallurgy: The Art of Extracting Metals from Their Ores, and Adapting Them to Various Purposes of Manufacture, Volume 2. 
  16. Annual Reports of the Department of the Interior ..., Volume 4, Part 3. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Incandescent lamp with ductile tungsten filament". americanhistory.si.edu. Retrieved 26 August 2018. 
  18. Boorstin, Daniel J. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. 
  19. Heerding, A. The History of N. V. Philips' Gloeilampenfabrieken: Volume 2, A Company of Many Parts. 
  20. "Coolidge, William David (1873-1975)". harvardsquarelibrary.org. Retrieved 26 August 2018. 
  21. Transition Elements: Advances in Research and Application: 2011 Edition. 
  22. Materials Survey: Tungsten. United States. Business and Defense Services Administration. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Lassner, Erik; Schubert, Wolf-Dieter. Tungsten: Properties, Chemistry, Technology of the Element, Alloys, and Chemical Compounds. 
  24. "Tungsten : proceedings of the First International Tungsten Symposium, Stockholm, September 5-7, 1979 / edited ... by Mining Journal Books Limited in co-operation with the Primary Tungsten Association and the Consumer Reporting Group, co-sponsors of the symposium.". trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  25. "International Tungsten Symposium". classify.oclc.org. Retrieved 26 August 2018. 
  26. "International Tungsten Symposium (1st :, 1979 : Stockholm, Sweden)". catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 26 August 2018. 
  27. Werner, Antony B. T.; Sinclair, W. D.; Amey, Earle B. International Strategic Mineral Issues Summary Report--tungsten. 
  28. China Mining Laws and Regulations Handbook. International Business Publications, USA. 
  29. "The Rise and Fall of the Tungsten Filament Lightbulb". mmta.co.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2018.