Palladium’s primary use is as a catalyst. This stems from its ability to ‘adsorb’ Carbon monoxide and Oxygen wherein the two chemicals adhere to its surface. This brings the chemicals into close contact and simultaneously weakens their internal bonds, thus it catalyses the formation of Carbon dioxide
One of its key applications today is a micron-layer coating upon the honeycomb structured ceramic of auto catalytic converters where harmful Carbon monoxide is catalysed and emitted as (non-toxic) Carbon dioxide.
Palladium has a wide variety of uses, many of which we come across in everyday life in the form of white gold for jewellery, fine instruments in watches and in fact some of us may have this metal buried in our very own mouths. It is a widely used material in dentistry whether that be in the material to fill a crown or the instrument which the dentist uses. Some surgical tools are also made out of palladium.
White gold which is used in the jewellery industry, is an alloy of gold mixed with white metals such as palladium, silver and nickel. It has the ability to be beaten into leaf as thin as 1/250000 inch.
It was discovered in 1803 by WH Wollason in London, England. It is a member of the platinum group metals. It is always found associated with these, but being the least chemically resistant member of the group is generally combined with a non-metal, rather than as a native alloy. The largest palladium deposits are in Africa, Canada and Russia.
Pd compounds are readily reduced to the metal which has the ccp structure. Pure palladium is very ductile and can be rolled into thin sheets, or drawn into fine wire. It resists corrosion but dissolves in oxidising acids and in molten alkalis. It also has the unusual ability of allowing hydrogen gas to filter through.
It is used in alloys, such as white gold, catalysts, dental work and in electrical components. PdCl2 was formerly prescribed as a treatment for tuberculosis at the rate of 65 mg per day without apparently any ill effects.
Relative atomic mass
6 x 10-4 ppm
71.8 W /m/K