What Metal Has the Highest Melting Point?   Recently updated !


What Metal Has the Highest Melting Point
Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal or any element.

The metal with the highest melting point is tungsten. In general, metals display high electrical and thermal conductivity, malleability, and high melting points.

Understanding Melting Point

The melting point of a substance is the temperature at which it changes from a solid to a liquid at atmospheric pressure. For metals, the melting point is indicative of their thermal stability, bond strength, and overall structural integrity at high temperatures. Metals with high melting points are particularly valuable in applications requiring durability and performance under extreme heat.

The Metal With the Highest Melting Point

Tungsten (W) holds the record for the highest melting point among all metals, melting at an extraordinary temperature of 3,422°C (6,192°F). This property makes tungsten indispensable in industries where high-temperature resilience is crucial. Tungsten is a transition metal, best known for its use in filaments from incandescent lights.

Top 10 List of Highest Melting Point Metals

Tungsten is one of several refractory metals. There are a couple of different definitions for refractory metals, but these are elements that a high melting point (over 2000 °C), high hardness at room temperature, high density, and low chemical reactivity. Under the narrowest definition of a refractory metal, the list includes tantalum, tungsten, and rhenium, as well as niobium and molybdenum, which are just above the other elements on the periodic table.

  1. Tungsten (W) – Melting point: 3,422°C (6,192°F)
  2. Rhenium (Re) – Melting point: 3,186°C (5,767°F)
  3. Osmium (Os) – Melting point: 3,033°C (5,491°F)
  4. Tantalum (Ta) – Melting point: 3,017°C (5,463°F)
  5. Molybdenum (Mo) – Melting point: 2,623°C (4,753°F)
  6. Niobium (Nb) – Melting point: 2,468°C (4,474°F)
  7. Iridium (Ir) – Melting point: 2,446°C (4,435°F)
  8. Ruthenium (Ru) – Melting point: 2,334°C (4,233°F)
  9. Hafnium (Hf) – Melting point: 2,233°C (4,051°F)
  10. Technetium (Tc) – Melting point: 2,157°C (3,915°F)

The metals on the “top 10” list are all elements. While technetium has a high melting point, it is also a synthetic element and is radioactive. Note that while carbon (a nonmetal) often gets cited as having a higher melting point than tungsten, the temperature ​(3642 °C, ​6588 °F) is really a sublimation point. That is, it is the temperature where solid carbon transitions directly into a gas without becoming a liquid.

Alloy Melting Points

Alloys are materials consisting of two or more elements, typically metals, combined to enhance specific properties such as strength, corrosion resistance, and melting point. Alloys generally have lower melting points than pure metals because of freezing point depression. Basically, adding one metal to another lowers the melting point below that of the highest melting point pure element because the other atoms interfere with the strong bonding between the atoms. That being said, some alloys do have quite high melting points:

Tungsten Carbide (WC)

  • Melting Point: Approximately 2,870°C (5,198°F)
  • Composition: Tungsten and carbon
  • Uses: Cutting tools, mining equipment, and industrial machinery.
  • Remarks: While its melting point is lower than pure tungsten, it is still remarkably high and offers superior hardness and wear resistance.

Rhenium Alloys

  • Melting Point: Up to 3,180°C (5,756°F)
  • Composition: Rhenium with tungsten (W-Re) or molybdenum (Mo-Re)
  • Uses: Jet engines, rocket engines, and thermocouples.
  • Remarks: These alloys combine rhenium’s high melting point with improved mechanical properties and oxidation resistance.

Tantalum Hafnium Carbide (Ta4HfC5)

  • Melting Point: Approximately 4,215°C (7,619°F)
  • Composition: Tantalum, hafnium, and carbon
  • Uses: High-temperature furnace components and thermal protection systems.
  • Remarks: One of the highest melting point materials known, used in extreme temperature applications.

Nickel-Based Superalloys

  • Melting Point: Around 1,370–1,420°C (2,498–2,588°F)
  • Composition: Nickel, chromium, cobalt, aluminum, and other elements
  • Uses: Turbine blades, aerospace components, and nuclear reactors.
  • Remarks: These superalloys maintain strength and stability at high temperatures, although their melting points are lower than those of the highest melting point metals.

Molybdenum-Rhenium Alloy (Mo-Re)

  • Melting Point: Approximately 2,625°C (4,757°F)
  • Composition: Molybdenum and rhenium
  • Uses: Aerospace components, nuclear reactors, and high-temperature furnaces.
  • Remarks: Combines the high melting points of both metals with enhanced ductility and strength.

Why Metals Have High Melting Points

Metals generally have high melting points due to the strong metallic bonds formed between their atoms. These bonds involve a sea of delocalized electrons that contribute to the metallic structure’s overall cohesion.

The refractory metals, in particle, exhibit extremely high melting points due to the presence of very strong atomic bonds and densely packed atomic structures. In these metals, atoms have partially-filled d subshells. The d electrons are the ones that participate in metallic bonding. Most of these metals form highly stable body-centered cubic crystals. However, as the d subshell fills, the atomic number and number of protons also increases. This pulls the outer electrons inward toward the nucleus and decreases their ability to delocalize and form metallic bonds. This is why only a relatively small cluster of elements display such high melting points.

Uses of High Melting Point Metals

These metals serve a variety of uses, both because they withstand high temperatures and because they are hard and durable:

  • Tungsten: Light bulb filaments, cutting tools, and rocket engine nozzles.
  • Rhenium: Jet engines, rocket engines, and as a catalyst in the petroleum industry.
  • Osmium: Fountain pen nibs, electrical contacts, and as a catalyst.
  • Tantalum: Electronic components, medical implants, and aerospace materials.
  • Molybdenum: Steel alloys, electrical contacts, and as a lubricant.
  • Niobium: Superconducting magnets, aerospace applications, and medical devices.

Disadvantages of High Melting Point Metals

Despite their advantages, high melting point metals have certain disadvantages:

  • Cost: Extracting and processing these metals is often expensive.
  • Brittleness: Some, like tungsten, are brittle at lower temperatures, complicating their manufacturing processes.
  • Scarcity: Metals like rhenium and osmium are rare, increasing their cost.
  • Machinability: Machining high melting point metals is challenging due to their hardness and toughness.

Materials With Even Higher Melting Points

While metals like tungsten hold the record for the highest melting point among pure metals, certain compounds, such as carbides and nitrides, have even higher melting points. For instance, tantalum hafnium carbide (Ta4HfC5) has a melting point exceeding 4,000°C (7,232°F), making it one of the highest melting point materials known.

The Lowest Melting Point Metal

On the opposite end of the spectrum, mercury (Hg) has the lowest melting point of all metals, melting at -38.83°C (-37.89°F). This unique property makes mercury a liquid at room temperature, distinguishing it from most other metals.

References

  • Arora, Arran; Venu Gopal Rao (2004). “Tungsten Heavy Alloy For Defence Applications”. Materials Technology. 19 (4): 210–6. doi:10.1080/10667857.2004.11753087
  • Davis, Joseph R. (1997). “Refractory Metals and Alloys”. ASM Specialty Handbook: Heat-Resistant Materials. ASM International. ISBN 978-0-87170-596-9.
  • Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-08-037941-8.
  • Lassner, Erik; Schubert, Wolf-Dieter (1999). Tungsten: Properties, Chemistry, Technology of the Element, Alloys, and Chemical Compounds. Springer. ISBN 978-0-306-45053-2.
  • Wilson, J. W. (1965). Behavior and Properties of Refractory Metals. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-0162-4.