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The value of metals on Earth is often ranked according to human need and accessibility, or rarity. With gold alone, its versatility, conductivity, durability and good looks have made it definitely in the top 5 most expensive metals. Although it ranks quite high in the rankings of precious metals, gold still suffers from another metal in terms of price and rarity – rhodium.
Accordingly, rhodium is currently considered the most expensive precious metal and one of the rarest. The selling price per ounce of rhodium is at 10,300 USD at the moment, which is about 5 times the price of gold. So what makes rhodium so expensive?
First, rhodium does not readily react with oxygen, making it a precious metal. It is also the perfect catalyst, resisting both corrosion and oxidation. Its overall hardness and high melting point of 1,964 degrees Celsius (3,567 degrees Fahrenheit) make it among the platinum group metals alongside platinum, palladium, osmium, iridium, and ruthenium.
Its ability to withstand water and air temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit) and insoluble in most acids, makes rhodium very versatile for use in cars, airplanes, electrical contacts, thermocouple and high temperature resistance wire.
As the rarest metal of the platinum group, rhodium occurs at about 0.000037 parts per million in the Earth’s crust, while gold is found in abundance around 0.0013 parts per million, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Older brother. Mined and produced mainly in South Africa and Russia, rhodium can be a by-product of copper and nickel ore refining, containing up to 0.1% of the precious metal. About 16 tons of rhodium are produced annually, with reserves estimated at 3,000 tons.
Rhodium was first discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, an English chemist, who extracted the element from a piece of platinum ore from South America. This discovery came shortly after Wollaston discovered another platinum group metal, palladium.
Often found in association with platinum deposits, rhodium is separated from Wollaston’s specimen by removing the platinum and palladium, leaving a dark red powder that has been treated with hydrogen gas to reveal the precious metal Rhodium. .
Despite its silvery white appearance that can reflect light, rhodium gets its name from the Greek word “rhodon” which means rose. Its name refers to the red color of the metal salt.
Despite its rarity and beauty, statistics from 2019 show that almost 90% of rhodium demand is for the production of catalytic converters – an emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants into the air. contaminates exhaust gases from internal combustion engines into less toxic pollutants by catalyzing redox reactions. This is considered an unusual use for one of the Earth’s rarest metals.
Refer to IFL Science
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