Platinum is a chemical element with a name that is derived from the Spanish word “platina”, which means “little silver.” The chemical symbol of platinum is Pt and the atomic number is 78. It has six naturally occurring isotopes, and is an extremely rare element. It has appearance of 5 ug/kg. Platinum is also the least reactive metal. South Africa produces 80% of the world’s platinum. It is a non-reactive metal, and is actually the least reactive out of all metals. It is also considered to be a noble metal because of its strong resistance to corrosion and high temperatures.
Generally, it is found in an chemically uncombined state as native platinum. It can be found naturally in the alluvial sands of some rivers, so it was once used by the natives of South America to create artifacts. Platinum has various uses: it is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrodes, thermometers, dentistry equipment, and jewelry. It is one of the most valuable metals in the world since only a few hundred tons are produced each year. There are health concerns with platinum since it is a heavy metal, but it is not as toxic as other metals.
Platinum is considered to be among the most visually appealing metals. It has a silver white color, has a great luster, and is soft and malleable. It is the most ductile out of the pure metals. It also does not oxidize, regardless of the temperature. However, it can be corroded by halogens, cyanides, and sulfur. Since platinum is a very durable and not easily susceptible to wear and tarnishing, it is often used to make jewelry. It does not corrode very easily, withstands high temperatures, and has good electrical properties. Because of these properties, it is also often used in industrial applications. Platinum is one of the rarest metals. It only occurs at a concentration of 0.005 ppm in the Earth’s crust. It is even mistaken for silver sometimes. Native platinum is alloyed with iridium as platiniridium, so it is often found chemically uncombined. Native platinum is more commonly found in secondary deposits, as in platinum combined with other metals.
Platinum is found commercially as a by-product from the processing of nickel and copper mining. When copper is electro refined, metals including platinum settle to the bottom of the cell, which serves at the starting point for the extraction of platinum. Should platinum be found in placer deposits, it will be separated from them by using methods to extract impurities. Platinum is nonmagnetic, with nickel and iron being magnetic. Nickel and iron are therefore removed with an electromagnet. Other impurities can be removed by melting them away, since platinum has a higher melting point than other metals. Other impurities are removed using hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, to which platinum is resistant to. The impurities are removed by stirring the platinum in a mixture containing the acids and then extracting the platinum. Platinum is also processed with aqua regia to remove impurities.
Platinum is used in various types of jewelry and several watches. It is considered to be a high commodity. The price of platinum is more volatile than gold. In the year 2008, platinum lost almost 2/3 of its value. In that same year, gold only lost 1/3 of its value. However, when the economy is stable and growing, platinum is priced twice as much as gold. But in times of economic downturn, the price of platinum falls lower than gold because of the decreased industrial demand.
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