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.


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