7 Jun 2019

Hafnium - helped land the first astronauts on the moon

From Elemental, 8:00 am on 7 June 2019

Hafnium is named for Hafnia, the Latin name of Copenhagen.

Ceramics that contain the transition metal hafnium (atomic number 72, symbol Hf) are among the highest melting substances known.

The metal itself melts at 2230°C while hafnium carbide melts at 3200°C. This makes it useful in plasma torches used to cut steel.

Professor Allan Blackman from AUT says that a niobium-hafnium-titanium alloy also has a high melting point, which is why it was used in the thruster nozzles of the Apollo Lunar Modules.

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Photo: RNZ

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The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.

Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.

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Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.