The platinum group metals consist of platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. They all occur naturally and have similar chemical and structural properties. The elements are valued highly because of their medical, electronic, and industrial applications, and some own stock in platinum companies such as OTCMKTS:IMPUY.
The use of these metals relies on unique characteristics like their oxidation resistance, high melting points, outstanding conductivity, corrosion resistivity, and catalytic properties. Since platinum group metals are highly versatile, and they find applications in several industries such as those listed here.
Platinum-based drugs have been used for cancer treatment for several decades now and have been used to save countless lives. The first drug that was approved for anti-cancer therapy was cisplatin in the 70s. Other cisplatin analogues have been developed to aid in the fight, such as carboplatin and oxaliplatin. With advanced research, the newly developed drugs have lower toxicity and are effective on a wide range of cancer types.
Besides their use in cancer treatment, platinum group metals are also used in diagnostic devices. For instance, platinum is used in pacemakers and defibrillators. Since it is X-ray visible, platinum can also be used to treat blocked arteries. Platinum-gold alloys are used in crowns and dental bridges. If you want to increase the strength of your alloys, consider adding small quantities of high-quality platinum.
Fuel emissions can be made less toxic by autocatalysis. Three-way catalysts, consisting of palladium, rhodium, and platinum, help control emissions from petrol engines. They get rid of nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide from exhaust emissions. Rhodium is the most effective in converting nitrous oxides to nitrogen, thus saving the environment.
Although palladium and platinum have similar catalytic activities, palladium is preferred for commercial uses because it is much cheaper. Therefore, the demand for palladium has increased steadily over the past decade. Palladium can react readily with diesel emissions and has become the preferred alternative since the increased popularity of low Sulphur diesel fuels.
Palladium and platinum jewelry are famous around the globe, especially in Asian markets. The white-metal ornaments have purity levels ranging between 950 and 990 fineness, higher than the purity levels expected in gold jewelry. Palladium is lighter than platinum, making it the preferred option when it comes to making ornaments. Ruthenium and iridium are also used in jewelry, but primarily as grain refiners because less than 0.5% of the mass is often used.
The excellent resistance to wear and corrosion by platinum at high temperatures makes it the material of choice in glass production. The industry consumes over 350,000 ounces annually, making it a leading market for platinum group metals. Most of the quantity produces liquid crystal displays for flat-screen computer monitors and televisions, especially in Japan and Asia. The industry also uses about 55,000 ounces of rhodium yearly.
Chemical reactions in industries can be made more efficient and cheaper using catalysts. The most significant application of platinum group metals is in the manufacture of silicones, which are used widely in the construction and automotive industries. Platinum is also used to produce paraxylene, a precursor material in fabricating polyester fiber and plastic polyethylene. Palladium is used to catalyze the manufacture of purified terephthalic-acid production.
Palladium and platinum gauzes are used to produce nitric acid. Palladium-gold alloy catalysts are used to produce vinyl acetate, which is used to make polymers, paints, textiles, and adhesives. Rhodium catalysts are used to manufacture acetic acid and oxo-alcohols. Titanium coated with ruthenium-iridium or ruthenium finds its application in the chloralkali industry. Platinum catalysts are used in isomerization and reforming reactions in petroleum industries.
Besides using platinum group metals in autocatalysis, they are also used as oxygen sensors and spark plugs. All newly manufactured vehicles are fitted with platinum-tipped spark plugs with a practical life of over 100,000 miles. This is all thanks to the element’s resistance to electrical and chemical erosion.
Oxygen sensors control the air-fuel mixture introduced into the combustion chamber, making platinum an essential part of the engine. The sensor identifies the oxygen levels in the exhaust gasses coming from the engine and helps to rectify the air to fuel ratio. This process is vital in optimizing the efficiency of the catalysts and reducing emissions. Platinum coatings are used in airplane engines to prevent oxygen resistance at temperatures exceeding 1500 degrees Celcius.