Ammonium paratungstate is a white crystalline salt of ammonium and tungsten, with the chemical formula (NH4)10(W12O41)·5H2O.
Ammonium paratungstate is produced separating tungsten from its ore. Once the ammonium paratungstate is prepared, it is heated to its decomposition temperature, 600 °C. Left over is WO3, tungsten(VI) oxide. From there, the oxide is heated in an atmosphere of hydrogen, reducing the tungsten to elemental powder, leaving behind water vapor. From there, the tungsten powder can be fused into any number of things, from wire to bars to other shapes.
In more recent literature (post WWII period), the anion in (NH4)10(W12O41)·5H2O has been shown to be [H2W12O42]10-, containing two hydrogen atoms, keeping two hydrogen atoms inside the cage. The tungsten-oxygen cage, that is the heart of the anion requires 42 oxygen molecules. The correct formula notation for ammonium paratungstate is therefore (NH4)10[H2W12O42]·4H2O. The [H2W12O42]10- ion is known as the paratungstate B ion, as opposed to the paratungstate A ion, that has the formula [W7O24]6-, similar to the paramolybdate ion. The existence of the paratungstate A ion, could not be confirmed by NMR spectroscopy, however.
Before about 1930, there has been some dispute about the exact composition of the salt, and both (NH4)10W12O41and (NH4)6W7O24 were proposed. O.W. Gibbs remarked about this:
The alkali tungstates are numerous and unusually complex. Salts of essentially different formul;ae approach so closely in percentage composition, that the differences lie very near the unavoidable errors of analyses. The analyses are hardly sufficiently close to decide the question upon purely analytical grounds.
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