Platinum is a rare and valuable metal that has many uses. It is one of the best-known and most widely used precious metals, thanks to its high durability, resistance to corrosion, and scarcity. There are many purities of platinum available, with different levels of rarity and value. The most commonly traded varieties include industrial-grade platinum (92%), fine-grade platinum (99.95%), and super-high purity platinum (99.99%). The rarity, cost, durability, resistance to corrosion, ease of fabrication, density, melting point, chemical stability and electrical conductivity of platinum all make it an exceptional metal for a variety of applications. Read on to discover exactly why this metal is so special.
What is Platinum?
Platinum is a soft, ductile and malleable transition metal that can be found in nature as a free element, combined with other elements, or in minerals. It is one of the densest and rarest elements in the world, with an average of 80 grams per metric ton of ore. Platinum is a white metal that is insoluble in water and stains skin and clothing easily. It is commonly alloyed with other metals because of its high cost and resistance to corrosion. Platinum is commonly used for catalytic converters, medical devices, jewelry and in autocatalysts for fuel efficiency. Platinum is very resistant to corrosion and can last a long time without tarnishing. It is also quite ductile and soft, which means that it can be formed or bent easily. Platinum is also very dense, meaning that it weighs a great deal for its size. It is also a very hard material that can be used to make blades and other sharp items.
Why is Platinum So Rare?
Platinum is the least abundant of the precious metals with an annual production of around 100,000 ounces. It is estimated that 10 to 12 million ounces of the element were mined in the last century, while gold production was in the order of 50 million ounces. Platinum is less abundant than gold in the crust of the Earth. Production of platinum is extremely rare due to its geological occurrence. It is a very rare commodity that is found in very few places in the world. The largest deposits of platinum are found in South Africa, Canada and Russia with others being mined in the United States, China, and Brazil. Platinum is extracted from ore, which is found in rocks containing other elements. The other elements found in the ore have to be removed from the platinum before it can be used. The ore is refined in a smelter, which is a furnace that heats minerals to a high temperature and extracts useful elements.
Platinum's High Resistance to Corrosion
The corrosion resistance of platinum is due in part to the formation of an inert and impermeable layer of chromium oxide on its surface. The chromium is resistant to both seawater and the alkaline solutions commonly used in the electroplating industry. The high corrosion resistance of platinum makes it particularly useful in the chemical, dental and medical industries, where it is employed in instruments exposed to bodily fluids and chemical reagents. Platinum is also used to make parts for automobiles since it withstands the corrosive effects of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon gases produced in the engine.
Platinum's Electrical Conductivity
Platinum's conductivity is high at 0.54 Siemens per metre. It is the most conductive of the precious metals and is more than 3 times more conductive than gold. The electrical conductivity of platinum is very useful in the electrical and electronic industries. Electrical conductors are used in a variety of applications. Conductor materials are used for making wires and cables, connecting components, and for coating or impregnating other materials to provide an electrical path. Conducting materials are needed in large quantities for the construction of electrical equipment such as wires and cables, transformers, motors, circuit breakers, switches, and appliances. Platinum is particularly useful in circuits powered by low-frequency alternating currents since it has a very low resistance to the passage of electricity.
The Rarity of Its Raw Materials
Platinum is the least abundant of the precious metals and is therefore very expensive. Its main source of supply is a combination of recycled platinum and the extraction of platinum-containing ores. The world's annual production of platinum is approximately 100,000 troy ounces. By comparison, the annual production of gold is about 50,000 troy ounces, an amount equivalent to about 150 times the annual production of platinum. The small amount of platinum available from mining operations and recycled goods makes its production cost high, which drives up the price of platinum.
Platinum's Negligible Creep Properties and High Strength-to-density Ratio
Platinum can be used in applications that require high strength and corrosion resistance. It is also highly ductile and can be used in applications that require a high degree of elasticity. This makes it a good choice for making jewellery. Jewellery is made of an alloy of platinum and other elements, such as gold, silver, and other precious metals because they are more ductile than pure platinum. A component made of an alloy of platinum may be used in applications that require a high degree of strength, such as aircraft parts or medical equipment, or in applications that require a high degree of elasticity, such as springs.