Rheniite – a really rare mineral

There’s a cool flow chart on the wikipedia home page today about the manufacture of fluorine compounds from fluorite – from there I somehow jumped to reading about the electronics industry and became curious as to why they’re interested in producing thin films of rhenium. I never found out because I got distracted by the article on rhenium. The wiki article says that up to 70% of rhenium supply is used as an alloying element in jet engines so I’m surprised I don’t hear about it more, the ores it comes from would be really important strategically. I think it’s present in small concentrations in molybdenite, of which there are major deposits in the US/Canada (I think?). Maybe I don’t hear about it because it isn’t a problem, North America seems to have lots.

There weren’t any minerals containing rhenium in their chemical formula (rhenium is really rare), then one day in the 90’s some guy found the first one – in some remote part area belonging to Russia, on a remote island above Japan, in a fumarole (opening in the earth’s crust) around a volcano.

The wikipedia article says it was found at Kudriavy Volcano but I looked up the volcanoes on the island and it seems like the volcano is called Medvezhia; the vent is called Kudriavy.

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Image: Wikipedia (link)

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Image: I formatted the info myself, but I got it from this neat website (here) that shows pics of all the volcanoes.

 

The sulfurous gases produced rhenium sulfide leading to this really ugly (but still amazing) mineral. Apparently it’s something that rock collectors prize.

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Image: Wikipedia (link)

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