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Hafnium Uses

Hafnium Uses

Hafnium is a transition metal in the periodic table. To get to know more about its uses and other information, read this article.
Sujata Iyer
Hafnium, the mysterious element of the periodic table. Yes, this element has an interesting story behind it. Intrigued? Just read ahead and you'll get to know much more on hafnium and hafnium uses.

Scientists all over the world knew that hafnium existed. But they did not know what it was, how it looked, nor did it have a name. Then one day, in the year of 1923, Dirk Coster and George Charles von Hevesey, famous chemists, finally discovered this wondrous element, which was missing in the periodic table. Element number 72. The scientists used a method called X-ray diffraction analysis and struck upon this element as a part of a Norwegian zircon. Since this discovery was made in Copenhagen, Denmark, the scientists decided to honor the city by naming the element Hafnium, which is derived from the Latin name of Copenhagen-Hafnia.

Facts About Hafnium
  • The symbol for hafnium is Hf.
  • Its atomic number is 72.
  • It belongs to the fourth group of the sixth period in the periodic table.
  • Its shell structure is as follows: 2,8,18,32,10,2.
  • The electron configuration of hafnium is [Xe] 4f14 5d2 6s2.
  • Its atomic mass average is 178.49.
  • Its melting point is around 3900 degrees F and boiling point is around 9700 degrees F.
  • It is a bright silver metal and has high ductility.
  • Hafnium is chiefly obtained from the ore of zirconium.
  • Though not very reactive, hafnium combines with oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, silicon, and boron at high temperatures.
These were some interesting facts about hafnium as a chemical element. Now let's move on to the uses of hafnium.

Hafnium Uses
Important Uses of Hafnium
Given below are some of the important uses of hafnium.
  • Hafnium is most widely used in nuclear power plants. One of the best physical properties of hafnium is that it reacts very well with neutrons. Hence, hafnium is used in nuclear fission reactors where two atoms are collided against each other in a controlled process. When the atoms break, a huge amount of nuclear energy is released, which is then converted into electricity. Hafnium has the capacity to absorb a lot of neutrons. This is why it is used in making rods to control nuclear fission reactions. This is one of the most important uses of hafnium.
  • Hafnium is also used to make binary compounds, which are very good refractory materials. Refractory materials have the capacity to endure high temperatures. This makes them perfect for lining furnaces and refractory ovens.
Common Uses of Hafnium
Now let us see what are some common uses of hafnium.
  • Hafnium is often used as a 'scavenger metal' to retrieve oxygen and nitrogen.
  • It is used in plasma cutting as an electrode. This is because it has the ability to release electrons.
  • Hafnium is also used to make super alloys. Super alloys can withstand high temperatures and high levels of pressure. They are used in the field of aerospace, etc.
  • Hafnium is being used in leading companies like Intel and IBM to replace silicon chips. They're using hafnium chips instead, and the result, Intel says, is that their computer chip transistors are faster and there is a decrease in leakage by 20%.
  • Also, hafnium is used in televisions and radio tubes (electron shedding), and as a cathode in X-ray tubes.
  • It is also used for tantalum coating of the parts of rocket engines and also in the thruster nozzles.
Hafnium is a highly toxic element and inhaling it in powdered form or any of its compounds can prove to be very dangerous. Hence, it is carefully stored and used in a controlled environment.