Rhenium (Re) - Properties, Applications

Topics Covered

Chemical Properties
Physical Properties
Mechanical Properties
Thermal Properties


Rhenium is a silvery-white metal, with one of the highest melting points of all metals. With an average concentration of 1 ppb, rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust.

It is usually available in powdered form, but it can be consolidated by pressing and sintering in the presence of vacuum or hydrogen. At room temperature and atmospheric pressure, the element is resistant to hydrochloric acid, alkalis, and aqua regia.

Chemical Properties

The chemical properties of rhenium are provided in the table below.

Chemical Data
CAS number 7439-96-5
Thermal neutron cross section 12.6 barns/atom
Electrode potential -1.05 V
Ionic radius 0.460 Å
Electronegativity 1.55
X-ray absorption edge 1.896 Å
Electrochemical equivalent 0.684 g/A/h

Physical Properties

The following table discusses the physical properties of rhenium.

Properties Metric Imperial
Density 21.03 g/cm3 0.7598 lb/in3
Melting point 3180°C 5760°F
Boiling point 5596°C 10105°F

Mechanical Properties

The mechanical properties of rhenium are tabulated below.

Properties Metric Imperial
Tensile strength 1070 MPa 155000 psi
Yield strength 290 MPa 42100 psi
Poisson’s ratio 0.296 0.296
Modulus of elasticity 469 GPa 68000 ksi
Shear modulus 176 GPa 25500 ksi
Elongation at break 15-25% 15-25%
Hardness, Brinell 165 165
Hardness, Vickers 170 170
Hardness, Rockwell A 52 52
Hardness, Rockwell B 85 85

Thermal Properties

The thermal properties of rhenium are tabulated below.

Properties Metric Imperial
Thermal expansion co-efficient (@500°C/932°F) 6.12 µm/m°C 3.40 µin/in°F
Thermal conductivity 39.6 W/mK 275 BTU in/hr.ft².°F


Rhenium is included in high-temperature superalloys used for manufacturing jet engine parts. Platinum-rhenium catalysts that are chiefly used in lead-free, high-octane gasoline are another major application of rhenium.

Rhenium is added to nickel-based super alloys to improve creep strength of the alloys. Rhenium filaments exhibit a higher stability, and hence they can be used in photoflash lamps, ion gauges and mass spectrometers.

Rhenium radioactive isotopes are used for treating liver and pancreatic cancer where it is delivered through a bacterial host.


  1. Tom Millensifer Tom Millensifer United States says:

    Platinum-Rhenium catalysts are not used IN lead free gasoline, they are used to produce high octane gasoline so that it is not necessary to add tetraethyl lead to increase the octane. Tom Millensifer 303-972-6601 Email: [email protected]

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoM.com.

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