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Atomic symbol Hf
Atomic number 72
Classification Transition Metals
Atomic mass 178.49 amu
Other Information
Date of discovery 1923
Name of discoverer Dirk Coster & Georg von Hevesy
Name origin From the Latin name for Copenhagen, Hafnia.
Uses Due to its ability to absorb neutrons, used in reactor control rods and also as a gas scavenger in vacuum tubes.
Obtained from Obtained as a by-product of zirconium refining.

Hafnium is considered to be non-toxic. When in powder form it is pyrophoric (which means, it can spontaneously ignite).


Hafnium is a shiny, ductile (that is, it can be drawn out into wire) metal. Chemically this is very similar to the element zirconium. Hafnium is unaffected by all alkalis and all acids other than from hydrogen fluoride. It does reacts with the halogens to form tetrahalides, and at high temperatures it reacts with carbon, boron, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and silicon.[1]


Pure Hafnium is used primarily in nuclear reactor control rods. However, its alloys are much more useful. Hafnium carbide is used to line high temperature furnaces, for example.[2]