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Palladium

What Is Palladium?

Palladium is a chemical element considered to be a transition metal. It is a member of the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) which consist of palladium, platinum, osmium, iridium, rhodium and ruthenium. Palladium is very rare and has a lustrous silver-white appearance.

The PGMs have similar chemical properties but palladium is the least dense and has the lowest melting point. It is soft and extremely ductile. When it is cold worked the tensile strength greatly increases. Palladium is tarnish resistant, meaning that it does not react with oxygen at normal temperatures. It can resist intense heat and chemical erosion. Palladium is highly electrically stable.

What Is Palladium Used For?

Palladium is considered a precious metal due to its scarcity and therefore it is commonly recovered from out-dated electronic equipment to be reused. Its well established chemical and physical properties make it an ideal catalyst and alloying agent. It is used in the production of white gold and some high-end jewellers create pure palladium jewellery.

Palladium is used in the manufacture of surgical instruments and is harnessed in scientific experiments. According to the Palladium entry in Wikipedia:

“Palladium is a part of the palladium-hydrogen electrode in electrochemical studies. Palladium(II) chloride can oxidize large amounts of carbon monoxide gas, and is used in carbon monoxide detectors. With the platinotype printing process photographers make fine-art black-and-white prints using platinum or palladium salts. Often used with platinum, palladium provides an alternative to silver.”

Where Is Palladium Mined?

Most of palladium is mined as a by-product from other mineral deposits like nickel-copper, cooperate and polarite. Russia is the top producer of palladium followed by South Africa, Canada and the United States. Australia also produces palladium as part of the PGMs group extraction on a small scale.

Conclusion

Palladium is a very rare chemical element - a member of the Platinum Group Metals and a transitional metal. It has the lowest density and melting point of the metals in the PGMs group. It is often used in electrical contacts, jewellery, medical instruments and as an alloying agent and catalyst.

Palladium is often recycled due to its scarcity and high economic value. Russia is the top producer of palladium followed closely by South Africa.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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