Platinum

It is difficult to date the discovery of platinum. The first samples were brought back from Ecuador by the Spaniard Ulloa in the middle of the 18th century. Small silver-like objects were made by the native Americans from a gold-platinum alloy – hence the name platina, the diminutive Spanish word for silver.

Watson identified platinum metal in 1750 and Wollaston, who also isolated palladium and rhodium in 1803 and 1804 respectively, investigated its chemistry.

Properties

  • An attractive silver-white metal that is malleable, ductile and very heavy.
  • Generally hardened by alloying with iridium.
  • Its coefficient of thermal expansion (9 x 10-6% per °C) is very close to that of certain glasses, to which it can readily be welded.
  • Catalytic properties.
  • A high melting point and good resistance to corrosion.

Applications

  • The largest application for platinum is in car catalysts, where platinum is used in combination with palladium and, occasionally, rhodium.
  • Jewelry accounts for some 30% of platinum consumption.
  • High melting point and good resistance to corrosion, platinum is used in laboratory ware.
  • Platinum, alone or alloyed with rhodium, is used as a drawing die material in the fabrication of high-grade glass, as used, for example, in the manufacture of electroluminescent diodes.
  • Platinum electrodes are used in fuel cells and platinum alloy coatings in computer hard discs.
  • Platinum gauzes are used as a catalyst in the production of nitric acid and ammonia as well as in the synthesis of cyanhydric acid. It is also employed in the pharmaceutical industry as a selective hydrogenation agent.
  • Since the emergence of exchange traded funds (ETFs), platinum has increasingly used as an investment vehicle.

Recycling

Due to its value, platinum tends to be recycled quite readily. By far the majority of the recycling volumes come from the recycling of spent automotive catalysts with old jewellery and electronics making up the remainder. In addition to end-of-life recycling, significant volumes of platinum are used in closed-loop production processes for example in the glass manufacturing where old platinum equipment is recycled and turned into new equipment.

×

      Umicore uses certain monitoring and tracking technologies such as cookies. These technologies are used in order to maintain, provide and improve our services on an ongoing basis, and in order to provide our web visitors with a better experience.

      By clicking on the "Accept all" button you agree to the use of these cookies while using the website. For further information regarding how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please see section 11 of our website privacy notice

          Necessary cookies are essential and help you navigate our website. This helps to support security and basic functionality and are necessary for the proper operation of our website, so if you block these cookies we cannot guarantee your use or the security during your visit.

          Cookies that help us to understand the behaviour of users of our website. This allows us to continuously improve our website to provide the best information in support of our project aims. These cookies also help us understand the effectiveness of our website. For instance these cookies tell us which pages visitors go to most often and if they get error messages from web pages.

          Cookies that deliver content to you based on your interests, which are assumed from your browsing history. Most Targeting Cookies track users via their IP address and, thus, may collect some Personal Data. Personal Data collected by Targeting Cookies may be shared with third parties, such as advertisers.