Minor Metals


Rhenium is a chemical element with symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an estimated average concentration of 1 part per billion (ppb), rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has the third-highest melting point and highest boiling point of any element, at 5,869 K (10,105 °F). Rhenium resembles manganese and technetium chemically and is mainly obtained as a by-product of the extraction and refinement of molybdenum and copper ores. Rhenium shows in its compounds a wide variety of oxidation states ranging from −1 to +7.
Discovered in 1925, rhenium was the last stable element to be discovered. It was named after the river Rhine in Europe.
Nickel-based superalloys of rhenium are used in the combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines. These alloys contain up to 6% rhenium, making jet engine construction the largest single use for the element, with the chemical industry's catalytic uses being next-most important. Because of the low availability relative to demand, rhenium is among the most expensive of metals, with an average price of approximately US$2,750 per kilogram (US$85.53 per troy ounce) as of April 2015; it is also of critical strategic military importance, for its use in high performance military jet and rocket engines.


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