Precious Metals

Information

Description:

Platinum is one of the few elements having an alchemical Symbol (alchemy is an ancient pursuit concerned with, for instance, the transformation of other metals into gold).

Discovered By:

Julius Scaliger

Discovered In:

Italy, 1557. Fairly large quantities were not discovered until about 1750, when the Spaniards found deposits in South America.

Origin:

The name is derived from the Spanish word "platina", meaning silver.

Color:

Greyish White

Chemical Symbol:

Pt

Atomic Number:

78

Atomic Mass:

195.078

Platinum

Platinum is a precious, silver-white metal that is even more valuable than gold. Platinum is also a chemical element and one of the heaviest substances known. A given quantity of platinum weighs about 21 times as much as an equal quantity of water.

Platinum has many special characteristics that make it valuable. Only gold and silver are easier to shape than platinum. It can be shaped and worked in almost every possible way. It does not corrode or tarnish when exposed to air, because it does not combine readily with oxygen or sulfur compounds found in air. Strong acids that dissolve most metals do not attack platinum. Platinum dissolves in a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid called aqua regia. It has a relatively high melting point of 1772 degrees C. It combines readily with arsenic, phosphorus, and silicon. Platinum also forms alloys with most other metals.

Platinum serves as an effective catalyst, a substance that speeds up chemical reactions. Automobile manufacturers use platinum in emission-control devices called catalytic converters. The oil industry also uses platinum to help break down fractions (parts) of petroleum to produce gasoline of a higher octane number. Platinum is also used as a catalyst in making various chemicals, such as acetic acid and nitric acid.

Topics

Platinum
Palladium
Rhodium
Gold
Silver

Since the mid-seventies, the automotive industry has emerged as the principal consumer of PGMs. Platinum, palladium and rhodium are used as oxidation catalyst in catalytic converters to treat automobile exhaust emissions. In recent years, jewelry demand for platinum has suffered with the record high prices for the metal, while offtake of palladium jewelry has begun to develop.

Offtake of gold for the global jewelry market continues to grow. Additional demand in electronics and from investors has also expanded. Declining primary mine production and producer de-hedging have supported the metal's price.

Despite lower jewelry sales and dwindling demand in the photographic industry, overall consumption of silver has remained stable, principally due to increased speculative investments and improved interest in electronics.