The exact date of discovery of this metal is unknown. It was known in the middle ages by pre-Columbian South Americans and it was brought to Europe in about 1750.
It is the most abundant of the platinum group metals occurring naturally and in traces in heavy metal sulphide ores.
Pt compounds are readily reduced to the metal which has a ccp structure. It is a lustrous silvery white malleable and ductile metal. It is unaffected by air and water and will only dissolve in aqua regia (HCl/HNO3) and molten alkali.
The metal is used extensively in jewellery, laboratory ware, thermocouples, electrical contacts and catalysis. In catalysis the metal is generally impregnated on an inert support. Pt compounds have anti-tumour activity and are used in cancer drugs. However, due to its high cost, Platinum’s use is not as widespread as one might expect considering its inertness and other novel properties.
The earth seems to have got an unlucky straw in its share of crustal platinum, however. Elsewhere in the universe it is suspected that Platinum concentrations are much higher, to the extent that it is even economically viable to mine Platinum at asteroid impact sites.
Relative Atomic Mass
Historically, Lipmann’s involvement with Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) started from handling a wide variety of PGM-containing scrap originating from the former Soviet Union.
Items included anode slimes as well as Palladium containing catalysts once used for cleaning the atmosphere in Russian Komsomolets class submarines.
At about 200mt of supply per year, and with a density of 21.46g/cm3, the entire world’s supply would fit into a small metal trader’s office (ideally ground floor) of 10m3.
Russia remains the largest Platinum producer in the world while the UK and Europe is blessed with several PGM refineries as well as companies harnessing the power of PGMs for crucibles, hydrogen fuel cells, gauzes, automotive catalysts, temperature measurement technology, thermocouples and jewellery – amongst others.
Lipmann Walton is variously pleased to quote terms for the recovery of platinum group bearing materials, whether in the form of dusts, residues, catalyst or alloy. We are happy to act as principal or agent in this type of business, facilitated by our long trusted relationships with key refineries in Europe.