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Metals

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Last updated date: 21st Apr 2024
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Introduction to Metal

What is the strongest metal on the planet? This is one of those queries that appears simple but is actually extremely difficult to answer. Direct comparisons based on strength do not work when it comes to metal. Why? For starters, there isn't a single, universal scale for measuring strength. There are four at most. 


In the article below, we will see what we mean by the strongest metal with the help of definition, history and properties. We will see the different forms of strength and how they relate to metallurgy before providing some insights and comparisons of the strongest metals. Let's start with the history of metals.


A Brief History of Metal:

The metal originated 11000 years ago. This is an important material that is used in the day to day life process. in many forms. We cannot imagine a world without metals. Day to day actions where the metal is used are building of constructions, Current electricity, transportation etc. 


Metals are chosen in many forms based on requirements like Strongest metal, hardest metal. Metals are classified based on their properties of metals.  We can have many different strongest metals. Let us know the top 10 strongest metals below. Metals contain the strongest metal, hardest metal, poor metals etc based on their properties. Let us know which is the  strongest metal on the earth and Which is the hardest metal on the earth in the explanation below.


Metal Definition:

Before we start with the strongest metals, let us have look at the concept of metals. So, metal is a material or substance which is capable of conducting electricity at absolute zero temperature.

                                                            Or

Any element with a positive electrical charge, with a shiny surface and a good conductor of heat, is defined as a metal.


Example: Copper, gold, iron, aluminium etc.

Metal possesses some properties physically and chemically.


Physical Properties of Metals:

The physical properties of metals are:

  • Lustre: The property states that metals in the pure state usually shine. The surface of the metal shines is the metallic lustre. Metals shine in light due to the fact that metals possess free electrons that vibrate on getting in contact with light.

  • Malleability: This property says that metals can be beaten or shaped into any other sheets or sample without losing their shape. Example silver metal is used for making foil used for decorating sweets.

  • Ductility: The property of metals refers to drawing the metals into thin wires. For example, Copper and iron can be drawn into thin wires.

  • Conductivity: Metals are good conductors of electricity and heat. Since metals possess free electrons in an atom it is responsible to conduct electricity. There are metals that are good conductors as well as bad conductors of electricity. For example, silver and copper are the best conductors of electricity and lead and mercury are the bad conductors of electricity. Some metals also have high melting points.

  • Sonorous: Some metals produce sound on stocking hard with other metals or substances, which is nothing but sonorous property. For example, School produces a sound when it is hit by a hammer hard. Some of the examples are Iron, Gold, copper, Aluminium, Magnesium etc.

  • Solid: All metals are solid in the state. Some of the exceptional metals are Sodium, potassium, mercury etc. Mercury is in the liquid state at room temperature. Remaining metals like sodium and potassium can easily be cut by the knife. Examples of solid metals are Iron, gold, copper, aluminium, Silver etc.


Chemical Properties of Metals:

The chemical properties of metals are:

1. Oxidation: 

All the metals except noble metals react with oxygen to form oxides. Some of the metals form oxides. Let us explain with an example:

Magnesium reacts with oxygen to form magnesium oxide

I.e, Mg + O2 2MgO


2. Reactivity: 

Metals reaction with water, acids and bases. Reaction with water-Metal like sodium reacts with water to form hydroxides at room temperature.

2Na + 2H2O 2NaOH + H2

Some metals don't react with water at room temperature. They react slowly, for example, iron reacts with water slowly.


Classification of Metals:

Some metals are classified based on different aspects like strong and weak or some are based on the content of iron in the metal.

There are mainly three types of metals includes namely 

  • Ferrous metals:

  • Non-ferrous metals

  • Alloys

1. Ferrous Metals: Specifically ferrous metals are the metals that consist of iron and other elements in small amounts. These metals when exposed to moisture, rusting can be seen. These metals are attracted to magnets. Ferrous metals include steel, mild steel, cast iron etc.


2. Non-ferrous Metals: Non-ferrous Metals are metals that do not consist of iron. No rusting is seen in these metals These metals are not attracted to magnets. Non-ferrous metals include steel, mild steel, cast iron etc.


3. Alloys: Alloys are substances that contain two or more different metals and other elements. The metals are carefully chosen and mixed to achieve specific properties; these include reducing the melting point, which makes the alloy lightweight, etc.


Type of Strength in Determining the Strongest Metals

After studying the different types of material we saw that depending on the physical and chemical properties we have three different types of metals. Now the question that arose was, what do we mean by the strongest metal and how do we classify them as strongest. Well, the answer is the strongest metals are determined by the four different strengths. Let us have a look at these:

  • Tensile Strength

The ability of a substance to resist tension is referred to as tensile strength. To put it another way, it considers how much force is required to stretch or pull something apart. A low-tensile-strength material would break apart more easily than a high-tensile-strength material.

  • Compression Strength

The ability of a substance to survive being crushed together is referred to as compressive strength (compressed). An external force applies pressure to a material to determine its compressive strength, which is used to determine how well the material can resist shrinkage. The Mohs Hardness Test is a frequently used compressive strength test. The test uses a scale that ranks minerals from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest.

  • Yield strength 

The ability of a material to sustain permanent deformation or bending is referred to as yield strength. It's a method of determining a material's elastic limit. A bend test is used to determine this, in which two ends of a beam or bar are grabbed and stress is applied. The goal is to figure out how much stress it takes to push a material past its yield point, or the point at which it won't return to its original shape after the stress is removed.

  • Impact Strength

The ability of a substance to endure a blow without fracturing or shattering is referred to as impact strength. To put it another way, it's a method for measuring the maximum amount of energy a material can absorb by impact.


Strongest Metals:

The top 10 strongest metals are :


Rank

Type of Metal

Example and Its Uses

Melting Point

1

Tungsten

Used in the aerospace, Filaments in lamps and light bulbs and automotive industries and radiation shielding.

3422oC

2

Steel

Used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, trains, cars, machines, electrical appliances, and weapons.

13710C

3

Chromium

Used in electroplating, tanning, printing, and dyeing, medicine, fuel, catalysts, oxidants, matches, and metal corrosion inhibitors.

19070C

4

Titanium

Used in nuclear submarines, deep submersibles, atomic energy icebreakers, hydrofoil ships, hovercrafts, minesweepers and propellers, seawater pipelines, condensers .

16680C

5

Iron

Vehicles – cars, trucks, SUVs, semis, RVs, buses, trains.

Appliances – refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, stoves, dishwashers.

Utensils – forks, spoons, knives and more.

Medical-surgical stainless steel, implantable devices.

15360C

6

Vanadium

Used to make axles, armour plates, car gears, springs, cutting tools, piston rods and crankshafts. 

19100C

7

Lutetium

Used to make catalysts for cracking hydrocarbons in the petrochemical industry.

16630C

8

Zirconium

Used in ultra-strong ceramics. 

Used to make crucibles that will withstand heat-shock, furnace linings, foundry bricks, abrasives and by the glass and ceramics industries.

18500C

9

Osmium

Used to produce very hard alloys for fountain pen tips, instrument pivots, needles and electrical contacts

30000C

10

Tantalum

Used in the electronics industry for capacitors and high power resistors

30170C


Important Points from the Above Table are:

  • Titanium is the strongest metal on the earth.

  • Chromium is the hardest metal on the earth.

  • Aluminium is the purest form of metal.


General Uses of Metals:

Uses of metals in our daily life are:

  • Gold, silver and platinum are used for making jewellery and ornaments.

  • For the construction of buildings, iron and steel are used.

  • Zinc is used for galvanization, in order to avoid rust

  • In order to make wires, copper is used. And also aluminium is used for insulation.

  • Silver foil is used in the decoration of sweets.

  • Mercury is used in thermometers for measuring temperature.

  • In vehicles, iron is used in large amounts.

  • Aluminium foil is used for wrappers of food.


Interesting Facts

Tungsten is the strongest natural metal in terms of the tensile strength (142,000 psi). Tungsten, on the other hand, has a low impact strength because it is a brittle metal that is known to shatter on impact. The tensile strength of titanium, on the other hand, is 63,000 psi. However, when the density of titanium is taken into account and a pound-for-pound comparison is made, titanium outperforms tungsten. When it comes to compression strength, titanium ranks substantially lower on the Mohs scale of hardness.


It's clear that attempting a straight comparison is akin to comparing apples to oranges. Whether it's chromium vs. Inconel (Nickel Alloys), titanium vs. steel, or tungsten vs. stainless steel, there's a difference. It just doesn't seem to add up.


Conclusion:

We learned about the interesting existence of metal and its origin. Along with the physical and chemical properties of metals. We noticed that part of the problem is that determining which material is the strongest is very dependent on the intended use. There may be times when a high yield strength is required but compressive strength is irrelevant. To choose the right materials, you must first understand the application.

FAQs on Metals

1. Which is the strongest metal on the earth?

Tungsten is the strongest metal on the earth because it has a high melting point.

2. Which metals are the poor conductors of electricity?

Tungsten and Bismuth are poor conductors of electricity.

3. Give an example of a metal that is a bad conductor of heat?

Metal Lead is a bad conductor of heat.

4. What is the melting point of iron and copper?

The melting point of iron is 15360C and copper is 10850C.