Chem Explorers

The Remarkable World of Rhenium: Rare Properties and Unique Applications

Rhenium: The Basics

Rhenium is a transition metal with the atomic number 75. It is the third densest element next to platinum and iridium and is known for its high melting point, resistance to wear and tear, and remarkable mechanical properties.

It was discovered in Germany in 1925 by Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke, and Otto Berg through the analysis of a sample of columbite- tantalite, which is a mineral containing niobium and tantalum.

Isotopes of Rhenium

Two isotopes of rhenium are naturally occurring, namely rhenium-185 and rhenium-187. The latter is more abundant, comprising 62.6% of all rhenium isotopes.

Scientists have also produced 23 artificially generated isotopes, with rhenium-186 having the longest half-life of any of these isotopes at 90.6 hours.

Occurrence of Rhenium

The reserves of rhenium are limited, with only a few countries producing significant amounts of the element. Chile and Peru hold the largest deposits of rhenium, with the former producing approximately 40% of the worlds supply.

Meanwhile, the United States and Kazakhstan are other major producers. Rhenium is extracted mainly from two primary sources – molybdenum roaster-flue dust and copper-sulfide ores.

Reserves of Rhenium

Chile has the largest known reserves of rhenium, with an estimated 49,000 tons. Peru follows closely with 29,000 tons, with the USA ranked third at 7,200 tons.

Kazakhstan has a relatively small reserve of 900 tons of rhenium.

Extraction of Rhenium

A significant source of rhenium comes from the byproducts of molybdenum mining, a valuable metallic element used in alloys, lubricants, and other industrial applications. Rhenium is present in molybdenum deposits, and when molybdenum is extracted from the ore, rhenium is also released.

Another source of rhenium is from copper-sulfide ores. In this process, the ores are crushed and ground into a fine powder called flotation concentrate.

The concentrate is then smelted to produce copper, but in the process, impurities are released, which contain rhenium. This impure material is then refined to produce rhenium, which is purified using chemical techniques.


Rhenium is a valuable and scarce transition metal with unique properties, making it valuable for industrial and technological applications. The elements limited availability means that careful extraction processes are required, and innovative methods of sourcing rhenium are essential.

While significant reserves of rhenium exist in Chile, Peru, the USA, and Kazakhstan, developers and researchers are continually searching for new sources and ways to extract rhenium from the earth. Rhenium is a rare, heavy metal element that has been studied and researched since its discovery in 1925.

Its properties and applications are unique and fascinating to many scientists and industrial professionals. In this article, we will delve deeper into the history, classification, and position of rhenium in the periodic table.

Origin of the Name Rhenium

Rhenium’s name comes from the Latin word “Rhenus,” meaning river. This name was chosen because the element was first discovered in a sample of columbite-tantalite ore from the Rhine River region in Germany.

Although rhenium has since been found in other minerals and locations, the name has been retained in honor of its origins.

Discovery of Rhenium

Rhenium was discovered in 1925 by the German scientists, Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke, and Otto Berg. Noddack and Tacke had speculated that there was an element with atomic number 75, in between manganese and technetium on the periodic table.

They found this element in a sample of columbite-tantalite, and they deduced its existence through X-ray analysis. Its properties were similar to those of technetium, but several differences immediately stood out, indicating that it was an entirely different element.

They named it rhenium after the Rhine River nearby.

Classification and Position of Rhenium

The modern periodic table is organized based on atomic numbers and electronic configurations. Rhenium is considered a part of Group 7 on the periodic table, alongside manganese molybdenum, and technetium.

Rhenium is located in Period 6 and Block d of the periodic table. Rhenium is a unique metal that shares characteristics of other elements in Group 7.

These elements have an incomplete outermost electron shell, which results in the formation of various oxidation states. Rhenium has seven electrons in its outermost energy level, making it more electronegative than most metals in its group.

Its electronic configuration is 1s22s22p63s23p63d104s24p64d55s2.

Location of Rhenium in the Periodic Table

The location of rhenium is in Group 7 of the periodic table. The group includes some of the most critical metals, and they have peculiar properties due to their valence electrons.

The specific valence of each member of this group can define the chemical and physical properties of each element. Generally, metals in Group 7 are good conductors of heat and electricity, and they form compounds with high melting and boiling points.

Rhenium has some distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other metals in Group 7. For one thing, it has a denser and higher melting point than the other elements in the group.

It also has a higher atomic weight, making it heavier. Rhenium is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it valuable in industrial applications, such as the production of turbine blades, electrical contacts, and superalloys.


Rhenium is an exceptionally rare metal, and its applications are essential in a variety of industries, including aerospace, electronics, and energy. Its scarcity and fascinating features have made it an object of study and interest for many scientists and research institutions.

The name rhenium comes from its origins in the Rhine River region of Germany, and its discovery was a significant event that marked a new era in the periodic table arrangement. Rhenium’s classification in Group 7 and location in Period 6 and Block d of the periodic table make it a fascinating element, and there is much still left to learn about its properties and applications.

Rhenium is a rare and valuable transition metal with unique physical and chemical properties. The element has a wide range of applications, from aerospace to jewelry, and is often used in the manufacturing process of other critical metals.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the properties and uses of rhenium.

Physical Properties of Rhenium

Rhenium is a silvery-gray metal with excellent luster and a high melting point of 3,186 degrees Celsius, making it the third highest of all elements, after tungsten and carbon. The metal is highly dense, measuring up to 21 grams per cubic centimeter, and has a malleable state in its pure form, making it easy to shape into various forms.

Rhenium is a solid metal with a hardness of approximately 7.5 on the Mohs scale, making it almost as hard as osmium. Rhenium is also known for its excellent electrical conductivity, being used as an electrical contact material.

The metal has a work function of approximately 5.52 electron volts, making it able to emit electrons easily when struck with light. Additionally, rhenium is the second densest transition metal next to osmium, having a density of 21.02 g/cm.

Chemical Properties of Rhenium

Rhenium can exist in oxidation states ranging from -3 to +7, with the most common being +7, +6, +4, and -1. The metal is chemically unreactive at ambient temperatures, meaning it doesn’t easily react with air or water.

However, it can be argued that rhenium is highly reactive when exposed to extreme temperature and pressure. Though it is generally not flammable or reactive when exposed to air, its compounds have been found to be highly flammable.

For example, ammonium perrhenate and rhenium heptoxide can be ignited when exposed to air or water, producing a dense, white smoke.

Atomic Data of Rhenium

Rhenium has an atomic number of 75 and quantum numbers of (n, , m,ms) = (6,1,0,1/2). Its ground-state electron configuration is [Xe] 4f14 5d5s2.

The primary XPS region is Rhenium 4d. The metal has a body-centered cubic crystal structure, with lattice constants of a = 2.7604 .

It has an atomic radius of approximately 1.37 and an electronegativity of 1.9.

Rhenium is a high-energy element, with one of the highest ionization energies of 760 kJ/mol. This high energy level is due to its full 5d electronic configuration, making it reluctant to lose electrons.

Uses of Rhenium

Rhenium is valued for its exceptional mechanical and electrical properties, which allow for various applications in a range of industries, including:

– Aerospace equipment: Rhenium is used in the manufacturing of high-temperature aerospace equipment, such as rocket motors and exhaust nozzles. Due to its ability to withstand high temperatures, it is a perfect fit for these applications.

– Electrical contact materials: Rhenium is highly conductive, making it an excellent material for electrical contacts. It is commonly used in the production of filament wires used for lightbulbs and in flash lamps.

– Jewelry: Rhenium is highly lustrous, making it an attractive material for jewelry. Often, it is alloyed with gold to improve durability and strength.

– Temperature measurement: Rhenium is used in thermocouples and resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) because of its ability to maintain accuracy at high temperatures.

Rhenium Alloys

Rhenium is also used in the production of various alloys, including superalloys. These superalloys can withstand high temperatures and pressures, making them ideal for use in turbine blades for power generation, aerospace engines, and other high-temperature applications.

Rhenium is also widely used in the manufacturing of thermocouples for temperature sensing in industrial applications.

Rhenium Toxicity

Rhenium is generally considered to be non-toxic. However, as with any metal, it can be dangerous if ingested or inhaled in large quantities.

Long-term exposure to the metal can cause skin irritation and other health problems. Therefore, proper handling and safety precautions should be taken when dealing with rhenium or its compounds.


Rhenium is a highly valuable metal with unique properties that make it an essential component in various industries. Its high melting point, electrical conductivity, and mechanical strength make it a prominent material for aerospace applications, electrical contact materials, and jewelry.

Rhenium alloys, including superalloys, have unique properties that can withstand high temperatures and pressures, making them vital in industrial applications. However, as with any metal, proper handling is critical to avoid any health hazards.

Rhenium is a fascinating metal with unique properties and interesting applications. In this section, we will explore some intriguing facts about rhenium, as well as its price and economic impact.

Facts about Rhenium

One of the most remarkable properties of rhenium is its extraordinarily high melting point of 3,186 degrees Celsius (5,747 degrees Fahrenheit). This makes it one of the few elements that can withstand the extreme temperatures found in high-performance applications such as aerospace engines and power generation turbines.

In addition to its high melting point, rhenium also exhibits superconductive properties at very low temperatures. When cooled below 1.7 Kelvin (-271.5 degrees Celsius or -456.7 degrees Fahrenheit), it becomes a superconductor, meaning it can conduct electricity with zero electrical resistance.

This property makes rhenium a valuable material for various scientific research and technological applications, including in superconducting magnets and advanced electrical systems. Rhenium also has a number of isotopes, including a radioisotope called rhenium-186, which is used in cancer therapy.

Rhenium-186 emits beta radiation, which can be targeted to destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This therapy is particularly effective in treating certain types of tumors, such as liver cancer and metastatic bone lesions.

Furthermore, rhenium is used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic purposes. Rhenium-188, another radioisotope of rhenium, is used in nuclear medicine imaging, specifically in the treatment of certain cancers and bone pain caused by metastatic disease.

This isotope emits gamma radiation, which can be detected by medical imaging equipment to obtain detailed images.

Rhenium Price

Due to its scarcity and unique properties, rhenium is considered one of the most valuable and expensive metals. The price of rhenium can vary depending on market conditions, demand, and availability.

As of [insert date], the price of rhenium is [insert price per kilogram/ounce]. The high cost of rhenium is often due to its limited supply and the difficulties associated with its extraction and production.

The rarity of rhenium can be attributed to its low concentration in the Earth’s crust, making it challenging to find commercial deposits of the metal. Additionally, rhenium is often a byproduct of other mining processes, such as molybdenum and copper mining.

This means that the supply of rhenium is dependent on the extraction of these other metals. The economic impact of rhenium can be significant in industries that rely on its unique properties.

For example, the aerospace industry heavily relies on rhenium for its high-temperature applications, which include turbine blades and exhaust nozzles. The use of rhenium in these critical components contributes to the efficiency, reliability, and overall performance of aerospace engines.

However, the high price of rhenium can pose challenges for manufacturers in these industries, as it increases production costs and affects the final price of the end products. Furthermore, the medical field also benefits from the use of rhenium isotopes in cancer therapy and nuclear imaging.

These applications contribute to advancements in healthcare, making diagnosis and treatment more effective and precise. However, the cost of rhenium can impact the availability and accessibility of these medical procedures.

Overall, the price of rhenium is a reflection of its scarcity and the significant demand for its unique properties in various industries. As technological advancements continue and new applications for rhenium are discovered, the price may continue to fluctuate, further highlighting its value and economic impact.


Rhenium is a truly remarkable metal with unique properties and applications. Its high melting point, superconductivity, and radioisotopes make it a valuable material in industries ranging from aerospace to medicine.

The scarcity of rhenium and the challenges associated with its extraction contribute to its high price, which can impact industries that rely on its unique properties. Despite these challenges, rhenium continues to play a vital role in advancing technology, improving healthcare, and pushing the boundaries of scientific research.

In conclusion, rhenium is a rare and valuable transition metal with unique properties that make it essential in various industries. Its high melting point, superconductivity, and radioisotopes contribute to its relevance in aerospace, medicine, and scientific research.

Despite its scarcity and high price, rhenium continues to push the boundaries of technology and healthcare, making significant contributions to advancements in these fields. As we continue to explore the potential of rhenium, we can expect further breakthroughs and applications that will shape our future.


1. What is the price of rhenium?

The price of rhenium can vary depending on market conditions, demand, and availability. 2.

What are the applications of rhenium? Rhenium is used in aerospace equipment, electrical contact materials, jewelry, temperature measurement devices, and alloys like superalloys used in high-temperature environments.

3. What is the significance of rhenium’s high melting point?

Rhenium’s high melting point allows it to withstand extreme temperatures in applications such as aerospace engines and power generation turbines. 4.

Is rhenium toxic? Rhenium is generally considered non-toxic, but proper handling is still necessary to avoid any health hazards.

5. What are the uses of rhenium in medicine?

Rhenium isotopes are used in cancer therapy and nuclear imaging for diagnostic purposes. 6.

Why is rhenium expensive? The high price of rhenium is due to its scarcity, limited supply, and the difficulties associated with its extraction and production.

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