Palladium has become a popular precious metal in recent years because of its price increase. It reached a record-high of $3,017 per troy ounce on May 4, 2021.
You may be interested to know that palladium is part of a group of precious metals known as the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs). The PGMs are six metal elements that are chemically and anatomically similar.
The six PGMs are:
- Platinum (Pt)
- Palladium (Pd)
- Iridium (Ir)
- Rhodium (Rh)
- Osmium (Os)
- Ruthenium (Ru)
What are the 6 Platinum Metals?
The PGMs are noble metals that are close to each other on the Periodic Table of Elements. Known as the densest known metals on earth, they all naturally occur in the same mineral deposits.
Platinum, palladium, and the other PGMs are highly durable and valuable. For that reason, they’re often recycled and have long life cycles. All the PGMs play a significant role in the wide range of global products that we use.
Here’s a rundown of the six PGMs, including their uses and any unique properties they have:
Platinum is probably the most well-known of the PGMs, mainly because of its widespread use in jewelry. This precious metal is dense, stable, and rare. Platinum also has medical and electronic applications.
The primary industrial use of platinum is in automobile catalytic converters. Platinum has a high melting point and is also highly corrosion-resistant.
In recent years, palladium has also become a well-known PGM. Palladium’s chemical stability, like platinum, makes it an ideal candidate for use in in catalytic converters.
Palladium is a soft, silvery-white metal used in jewelry manufacturing, too, though not as much as platinum. This precious metal has a high melting point, although it has the lowest melting point among the PGMs.
Iridium is the most corrosion-resistant pure metal. It perhaps functions best as an excellent alloy strengthener because of its high melting point and resistance to deformation. Iridium is the rarest of the PGMs, and it has many medical applications, too.
Rhodium is a highly active catalyst widely used in catalytic converters, similar to palladium and platinum. Rhodium’s high melting point and temperature makes it a stable material for glass manufacturing as well.
Osmium is the densest and hardest of the PGMs. This precious metal is an excellent conductor of electricity and a suitable oxidation catalyst. Osmium’s primary industrial applications include fuel cells and forensic science. It also serves as an additive for platinum and iridium alloys.
Ruthenium is known as an excellent alloying agent for other PGMs like palladium and platinum. Despite being brittle, this precious metal has a high melting point and excellent catalytic properties. Ruthenium primarily serves as electrical and electrochemical applications because of its superb conductive properties.
What the Platinum Group Metals are used for
The PGMs are in high demand because they have so many industrial applications. Because of this, mining alone doesn’t produce enough global supply.
The recycling of PGMs is essential to provide enough global supply of these highly sought-after precious metals. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that in 2011, recycled platinum and palladium comprised as much as 24% of the total world supply of those metals.
The PGMs’ versatility in industrial applications is also quite breathtaking in its total scope. According to the International Platinum Group Metals Association (IPA), about 25% of all global products manufactured contain a PGM or used a PGM in a vital role during production.
Some industrial applications of PGMs that may surprise you include:
- A radioactive isotope of palladium treats breast and prostate cancer.
- Spark plugs and oxygen sensors in vehicles (in addition to catalytic converters) have Platinum in them.
- Virtually all electronic products have Palladium.
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