It is quite likely that the man in the street will not have heard of the element Rhodium. In fact, if you said to the average driver that the catalytic converter located somewhere on the underside of his car below the driver’s seat might contain a few grams of this rare element, he would most likely be surprised – but none the wiser.
However, the truth is that since the Clean Air Acts of the 1970’s, elements such as Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium have been critical to reducing emissions of CO and NOx to the atmosphere.
Specifically, Rh acts as a reducing agent to convert harmful Nitrous Oxides emissions to safe N2.
As Nitrous Oxides are one of the key ingredients of smog in our modern cities, it is easy to see how valuable this element is to mankind. In fact, in 2008, partly as a result of speculation, the price of Rhodium rose to the equivalent of approx. $321,500/kg.
Over 80% of the world’s Rhodium is today used in catalytic converters. At the same time 80% of all Rhodium comes just from two countries – South Africa (circa 70%) and Russia (10%).
With a metal of this rarity, recycling becomes paramount and Lipmann Walton can provide terms for recovery.
Relative atomic mass
2 x 10-4 ppm
150 W /m/K