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What Is the Most Expensive Element?

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Francium is the most unstable of the first 101 elements.

Francium is the most unstable of the first 101 elements.

from Justin Urgitis' element image collection

Question: What Is the Most Expensive Element?

Here is a look at the most expensive natural element and the most expensive of any element known to exist.

Answer: The most expensive natural element is francium. Although francium occurs naturally, it decays so quickly that it cannot be collected for use. Only a few atoms of francium have been produced commercially, so if you wanted to produce 100 grams of francium, you could expect to pay a few billion US dollars for it. Lutetium is the most expensive element that you could actually order and purchase. The price for 100 grams of lutetium is around $10,000.

The transuranium elements, in general, are extremely expensive. These elements typically are man-made, plus it is costly to isolate the trace amounts of transuranic elements that exist naturally. For example, based on the cost of the accelerator time, man power, materials, etc., californium is estimated to cost around 2.7 billion dollars per 100 grams. You can contrast that price with that cost of plutonium, which runs between $5,000 and #13,000 per 100 grams, depending on purity.

Antimatter Costs More Than Matter

Of course, you could argue anti-elements, which technically are pure elements, are the more expensive than regular elements. Gerald Smith estimated positron could be produced for about $25 billion per gram, in 2006. NASA gave a figure of $62.5 trillion per gram of antihydrogen, in 1999.

More Element Facts

What Is an Element?
How Are Elements Named?
What Are the Elements in the Human Body?
What Letter Is not on the Periodic Table?

 

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