A Dive into the world of PGM's
What does PGM stand for?
What are the Six Platinum Group Metals?
Why aren't Gold and Silver considered part of the Platinum Group Metals?
Descriptions of the 6 Platinum Group Metals
Iridium - Symbol Ir
An element in the periodic table, Iridium is a rare transition metal with an atomic number of 77. Iridium was discovered by Swedish chemist Carl Fredrik Wiberg at the University of Lund on May 8, 1803.
Iridium is most notable for its use in the manufacturing of heat-resistant alloys, which are used to make thermometer probes and parts for jet engines. Iridium exhibits unusual resistance to oxygen corrosion, making it useful as high temperature crucibles and containers for sampling substances that react with atmospheric oxygen. It also has electrical properties similar to those of silver.
Osmium is a chemical element that has the symbol Os and atomic number 76. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston in Birmingham, England.
Osmium is a hard brittle metal that oxidizes quickly when exposed to oxygen or water. It is found primarily in the form of osmates, but also occurs as an allotrope with a hexagonal close-packed structure called aurostibite. Osmium is used for making electrical contacts, catalytic converters, fuel cells, and alloys such as platinum–osmium. The bulk material obtained from osmic acid can be either pure or alloyed with other metals.
Palladium is one of the rarest metals on earth, but it is still common enough to be found in jewellery, auto parts, and other everyday items. Palladium has a unique ability to resist corrosion. It also has a relatively low melting point, which makes it easy to mold or cast. Palladium is not toxic unless ingested and does not emit any harmful fumes.
The first documented use for palladium was as an alloy with silver more than 4000 years ago in India. The element can be extracted from its ores using a variety of techniques, including chemical reduction, electrolysis, ion exchange, gas absorption, precipitation, thermochemical processes, and pyrometallurgy.
This delicate, silvery-white metal is highly prized for its catalytic capabilities. With a melting point that is higher than that of other PGMs, it is also the most stable.
Platinum is a very rare metal with an atomic number of 78. It is the most common of the platinum group metals and it is also one of the most useful metals in industrial chemistry. Platinum has been used in jewellery for centuries, such as China and silverware, but its industrial uses are what make it so expensive.
The chemical properties of platinum can be grouped into four broad categories: physical, electronic, electrochemical, and catalytic. The colourless metallic element is soft enough to cut easily by hand or will fracture if struck against hard objects.
The 45th atomic number. Silvery-white, very hard, corrosive-resistant, and chemically inert, it is a transition metal. Although it is the most expensive of the precious metals, Rhodium’s physical properties make it one of the most valuable. Rhodium is rarer than platinum and gold, yet it can withstand high temperatures where other metals will melt.
Rhodium is used in turbocompressors in cars. It’s also used to make optical lenses for cameras and microscopes. Rhodium’s beneficial properties are hard won at great expense. Most ore deposits contain only a few parts per million (ppm) compared to billions of ppm in pure metal. The discovery of new reserves or improved mining techniques means that production costs can be kept low.
Platinum Group Metals Have a Wide Range of Applications
Ruthenium is the 44th element on the periodic table, and one of five rare metals. It is a shiny metal that is not only resistant to corrosion but also has strong catalytic properties which make it valuable for use in chemical processes.
Ruthenium is one of the rarest metals on Earth with annual production rates at less than 1 kg per year. The major ruthenium-containing minerals are carnotite (rutile) and monnartosite (mixed ruthenates). Ruthenium occurs naturally as an impurity in iron ore deposits near Rhine mine, Durban, South Africa.
They all share some common traits: they’re immune to oxidation, they’re all shiny and silvery in appearance and they’re usually malleable. For this reason they are often used to create jewellery or high-end electronics because they are highly conductive of heat, electricity, and light.
For example, palladium and platinum are used as catalysts in the petroleum industry, while iridium and platinum are used to make pacemakers and other medical implants and osmium and rhodium are used in the production of nitric acid and chemicals like cleaning liquids, adhesives, and paints.
PGMs have exceptional catalytic capabilities. For exquisite jewellery, platinum’s resistance to wear and tarnishing makes it a good choice. This material is resistant to chemical assault, has good thermal qualities and is stable electrically.
All of these characteristics have been put to good use in the manufacturing process. For the formation of single crystals, particularly oxides like platinum, platinum alloys, and iridium are often employed as crucible materials.
Ammonia is partially oxidized to produce nitric oxide, which is used in fertilizers, explosives, and nitric acid.
The chemical industry utilizes platinum or a platinum-rhodium alloy catalyst gauze to catalyze this process. As catalysts in synthetic organic chemistry, many PGM have emerged in recent years. The titanium anodes used to produce chlorine and caustic are coated with ruthenium dioxide.
For the petrochemical sector, platinum-supported catalysts are employed in the refinement of crude oil, reforming, and other processes that produce high-octane gasoline and aromatic chemicals.
How are PGM’s used in the Automotive Industry?
When it comes to PGM’s the automotive sector has been a major user since the Seventies. As an oxidation catalyst in catalytic converters used to treat car exhaust pollutants, palladium, platinum, and rhodium have been employed for decades.
Low-voltage and low-energy connections, thick- and thin-film circuits, thermocouples and furnace components, and electrodes all employ a broad variety of PGM alloy compositions.
Who are the main PGM Refineries?
When it comes to the refining of PGM’s the number of refineries globally is much smaller than gold and silver due to the longer processing and chemical extraction processing techniques. The major PGM refineries in this space are the like of:
Approximately 40% of freshly mined platinum is produced by the Anglo American Platinum group, the world’s top main producer. As the ores mined include PGMs, the amount of other PGMs it creates is likewise governed by their abundance. Palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium are the other PGMs except platinum.
BASF is a company that provides car emission-control systems (such as catalytic converters). It also manufactures catalysts, additives, and sorbents for use in chemical and petroleum refining processes (used to make pharmaceuticals and other chemicals). The BASF Corporation is headquartered in the United States of America.
Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) is engaged in the mining, smelting, refining, and selling of platinum group metals, notably platinum, as well as nickel, copper, and cobalt. Implats is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It is also active in secondary sourcing of PGMs via Impala Refining Services (IRS), which allows it to benefit from the group’s competitive advantages in processing and refining. Impala Refining Services (IRS) is a subsidiary of Impala Resources Limited.
Ishifuku is a Japanese company that refines, recovers, and sells precious metals. It was established in 1930. The corporation works with a wide range of items, ranging from raw materials including precious metals to completed goods. In the domains of industry, medical, and jewelry, it offers more than 10,000 different types of items to customers.
The products of the corporation are extensively utilized in a variety of industries, including autos, electronics, semiconductors, and chemicals. Ishifuku is a Japanese company with headquarters in Tokyo.
Johnson Matthey wants a cleaner, healthier planet for today’s and future generations. As a worldwide leader in sustainable technology, the firm works with clients to develop solutions that positively impact the environment. They’ve been pioneers in their fields for almost 200 years, using science to enhance air quality, health, and resource efficiency.
MMC Norilsk Nickel is one of the world’s largest producers of basic and precious metals. Production, marketing and sale of basic and precious metals; generation of operational electrical and heating energy and fabrication of building and construction materials.
Northam is a mid-tier integrated PGM producer with two principal operational properties in the South African Bushveld Complex: Zondereinde and Booysendal. This leasing area also houses Northam’s metallurgical activities, including a refinery and a base metals recovery unit.
In addition to gold and the platinum group metals, Sibanye-Stillwater is an autonomous, worldwide precious metal mining firm that produces a unique blend of metals, including gold and the platinum group metals (PGMs). Sibanye-Stillwater, headquartered in South Africa, owns and runs a diverse portfolio of high-quality activities and assets.
Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K., a subsidiary of Tanaka Holdings Co. Ltd., produces, investigates, and develops industrial items made of precious metals and bullion made of precious metals. Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K. exports and sells industrial items made of precious metals. Japan is the group’s home country.
Umicore is a multinational materials technology and recycling company with operations in over 100 countries. In order to make a significant impact, it concentrates on application areas where its knowledge in materials science, chemistry, and metallurgy is applicable.
Its operations are divided into three business groups: catalysis, energy & surface technologies, and recycling. Catalysis is the most important business segment.