Ruthenium was identified in 1827 by Osann in the leach residue of a platinum ore from the Urals.
The element in the metallic state was isolated by Klaus in 1843. The name is derived from Ruthenia, which is the Latin name for Russia.
- A shiny, hard and very brittle grey metal.
- Difficult to shape.
- Has a very high melting point.
- Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most other chemicals.
- Used in the manufacture of anodes employed in the electrolytic production of chlorine. These are titanium anodes, coated with ruthenium oxide or, occasionally, a platinum–iridium alloy, more recently an iridium–ruthenium alloy.
- Ru can be used as a catalyst in removing H2S in oil refining and olefin metathesis in organic and pharmaceutical chemistry
- Ru–Pt and Ru–Pd alloys are used in electrical contacts for thermostats, relays and some hard disk drives.
- Used in the form of resistors in electronic circuits.
- Certain ruthenium salts act as a catalyst in the low-temperature synthesis of ammonia.
Ruthenium recycling rates are above 50% mainly due to the recovery and re-use of ruthenium used in catalytic applications and to a lesser extent other residues from spent targets, target manufacturing and PVD shield scrap, machining parts and turnings as well as Ru containing chemicals, solutions, and other chemical scrap.