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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > E > Fausto de Elhuyar y de Suvisa

Fausto de Elhuyar y de Suvisa

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A distinguished mineralogist and chemist, born at Logroño, Castile, 11 October, 1755; died 6 February, 1833. He was professor in the School of Mines, Vergara, Biscay, from 1781 to 1785. His most celebrated work is the isolation of tungsten. Associated with his brother, Juan José, in 1783, two years after Scheele and Bergman had announced the probable existence of this metal, he isolated it, reducing it by carbon. At the present day when tungsten steel, known as high speed steel and self-hardening steel, is revolutionizing machine-shop practice, the work of Elhuyar is of particular interest. He named the metal Wolfram, a name which it still retains in the German language; the name, tungsten, meaning heavy stone, is generally used in other tongues. The Academy of Sciences of Toulouse, 4 March, 1784, received notice of this discovery. Elhuyar then spent three years in travelling for the purpose of study, through Central Europe and went to Mexico, then called New Spain. Here he had general superintendence of the mines and founded a Royal School of Mines in 1792. Driven away by the Revolution, he returned to Spain, where he was busy reorganizing his department when he was seized with a fit of apoplexy and died. His works are numerous; he wrote on the theory of amalgamation, a system for the reduction of silver from its ore which received great development in Mexico. In 1818 he published memoirs on the mintage of coins. He was also the author of memoirs on the state of the mines of New Spain (now Mexico) and on the exploitation of the Spanish mines. At Madrid, in 1825, he published a work on the influence of mineralogy in agriculture and chemistry.


Biographies in Dictionnaire Larousse, La Grande Encyclopedie, and under tungsten and Wolfram. His work on the reduction of tungsten is described in WURTZ, Dictionnaire de chimie; WATTS, Dictionary of Chemistry; MUSPRATT, Chimie.

About this page

APA citation. Sloane, T. (1909). Fausto de Elhuyar y de Suvisa. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Sloane, Thomas O'Conor. "Fausto de Elhuyar y de Suvisa." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. <>.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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