All About Palladium – A Precious Metal

Since 1939, palladium has been used as a precious metal and alternative to platinum in jewelry. It is part of the “white gold” group of alloys where the natural white palladium color does not require plating by rhodium. Compared to platinum, palladium is not as dense. Like gold, palladium can be beaten thin as a leaf. Palladium, unlike platinum, might discolor at temperatures higher than four hundred degrees Celsius and is more brittle. One of the three alloying metals that are most popular in white gold, palladium-gold is more expensive than nickel-gold. It does not cause as many allergies although with nickel, some cross-allergies could occur.

Palladium Discovery

In 1803, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston discovered palladium. This happened while he analyzed platinum ore samples were taken from South America. Even if this element is rare, palladium has a tendency to happen along with deposits of gold, silver, copper, nickel and platinum. It is recovered as a mining byproduct of other metal substances.

A Chemical Element

Palladium has atomic number forty-six and is a chemical element. It is a lustrous, rare silvery-white metal which Wollaston discovered in 1803. The name comes from the Pallas asteroid, which is named after Athena, the Greek goddess. Palladium is part of the platinum group of elements osmium, iridium, ruthenium, rhodium, platinum and palladium. These all have chemical properties that are similar. However, palladium happens to be the least dense and has a melting point which is the lowest among the group.

More than half of the palladium supply is used to convert as much as ninety percent harmful gases in the exhaust of automobiles into substances which are less noxious, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Also, palladium is used in hydrogen purification, medicine, dentistry and electronics. It is also used in jewelry, treating groundwater and chemical applications. One key fuel cell component is palladium. This reacts oxygen with hydrogen to produce water, heat and electricity.

It is rare to find other PGMs and palladium ore deposits. When it comes to the deposits, the most extensive has been found in South Africa. There have also been findings in Russia, Canada and the United States. Another source is recycling, mostly from catalytic scrapped converters.

There is a lot of interest in palladium because there are limited sources of supply and yet numerous applications.

Palladium Uses

The uses of palladium involve making surgical instruments, watch springs and electrical contacts.  Most uses for palladium involve being catalytic converters for cars. It is also used in dental crowns, dental filling and in jewelry. One gold alloy that has been decolorized by alloying with another metal is white gold. Sometimes, the same goes for palladium.

It is used in the industry of electronics in capacitors that are ceramic. It is also used in mobile phones and laptop computers. These consist of palladium layers that are sandwiched between ceramic layers.

Palladium divided finely is a great catalyst and is used for dehydrogenation and hydrogenation reactions. Through heated palladium, hydrogen easily diffuses and provides a method for the separation and purification of gas.