Palladium is a rare element that was discovered in 1803 William Hyde Wollaston. This discovery was accidental when platinum was dissolved in hydrochloric and nitric acid that left behind a residue which was named Pallas. It was initially sold as the next silver, until other scientists revealed it as an alloy. It has an atomic number of 46 and is symbolized as Pd.It is part of the platinum group of metals.
Uses of Palladium
Palladium was initially used to treat tuberculosis, but this practice soon became extinct due to the many side effects that palladium caused. Use of it in jewelry started in 1939, but it became popular only in 1980’s. Use is now also made of this metal in catalytic converters, and in many other industries mainly in electronics and for the purification of hydrogen. It absorbs 900 times more hydrogen than any other metal. By itself, the metal is quite nontoxic.
Use as a Catalyst
Palladium is a silver-white metal that has good plasticity and ductility and stable and is chemically inert in air under normal conditions. However, when heated to 800°C when a film of oxide forms on its surface. When divided finely and has carbon added to it, it forms a versatile catalyst that speeds up processes like hydrogenation, petroleum cracking and many other highly selective chemical formations. Palladium catalysts are used in organic chemistry and many other industrial applications. It has lately been used as nano particles for synthetic biology, which gives it an ability to treat disease.
Use in Electronics
Palladium is used in an alloy with silver to form electrodes needed to make ceramic capacitors. It is also used, often as an alloy with nickel for palladium plating components and connections, and in material used for soldering. Over 40 tonnes of this rare metal are used annually in the electronic industry and this constitutes over 80% of its annual output.
Palladium is also used for hydrogen storage because of its property to absorb and makes for a safe hydrogen storage medium. Small quantities of this metal are also used in the form of dental amalgam that is corrosion resistant. It has been used in jewelry, as a precious metal, since 1939 as white gold. Just like gold, it can be beaten in to thin leaf. In jewelry its use is made after heating in controlled conditions. Palladium is used to coat pen nibs and other luxury items. Photographers use palladium slats to make fine-art black and white prints.
The Production of Palladium
Most palladium in use in the world come from South Africa, United States and Canada, though it is also found in South America, Australia, Ethiopia, and the Ural Mountains. Recycling of electronic waste also is a fairly large source of palladium used around the world.
It is found as a residue in the production of other metals like nickel. Dehydrogenation is used to take advantage of the chemical difference between the metals to help in the production of palladium.
Palladium is part of the group of precious metals that form an attraction for investors.