Elements of Periodic table: 2) Palladium

Hi,
this time comes the post about another element of periodic table. Last time it was Vanad and I will continue with Palladium!
Palladium is extremely important in car industry, it is also beautiful in jewelry and has surprising history.


 

What I found most interesting about Palladium (Pd for the rest of the post) is that it is related to astronomy.
In the beginning of 19th century guy named William Hyde Wollaston was PallasHST2007.jpgable to separate Pd and then he published it in a scientific journal. Some people thought that it was fake, that what he called Pd was just some kind of alloy of Nickel and Silver. Wollaston named it after dwarf planet found two months earlier called Pallas, you can see the planet on the right (Pallas is second largest dwarf planet in the belt between Mars and Jupiter).

Palladium (46 Pd).jpgPalladium is white and grey metal right above Platinum in the table of elements. There are many isotopes and lot of them naturally occur and few of them are radioactive decaying into Ruthenium, for example.

It is used on various things. In cars it is used as part of catalytic converter which is next to motor and takes CO and other toxic and poisonous molecules out. For the converter to be fully functional we had to stop using leaded petrol. (Wikipedia says that there are still companies in China that produce tetraethylead which is the source of the lead in petrol, it is making the car more efficient).
Pb (lead) was destroying these catalytic converters in very short time while now it is assumed that it should be working for over 120,000 km. On the left you can see the three way catalytic converter.

Palladium is used a lot in jewelry like “white gold”, also in dentistry because it is cheaper than gold, but some people may be allergic. Smartphones and lot of various electronic devices contain Pd.
Pd is also used as storage for hydrogen.

Now for mining. Most of Pd is mined in Russia,
South Africa is right behind then for a long time nothing and rest is produced by USA and Canada mostly.

Some sources say that Russia is running low with their storage, which would be big problem if true (it is the state secret so no one can be sure). In 2001 there was a Pd crisis when Russia had some problems with mining (the problem was linked to politics). Prices of Pd rose to over 1000$ per troy ounce (OZ=27 grams). It seemed that it would rise even more so Ford Motor Company bought a big amount and then the prices dropped rapidly, leaving Ford with loss about 1 billion $! On the picture below you can nullsee the peak of the price and then the drop to about 200$. For now the price is about 560$/OZ for the last years the price seems to drop. On the next picture you can see the graph of prices for 18th December which of course do not 1 Day Spot Palladium Prices - Palladium Price Chartchange very much. In whole Earth there is about 0,0075-0,01 ppm (mg/kg) of Palladium. PPM is parts per million which is the same as miligram per kilogram. In sea water the amount is unmeasurable, because even the most precise technology is not able to detect it. In space there is about 1 atom of Pd per 30 billions of atoms of hydrogen.

Pd is also created in nuclear reactors but this source is not used.

Usually you will find pure (100%) palladium with gold or ruthenium around. Also oxygen is not reacting with Pd, which is extremely good attribute (this is not true above 800°C, then PdO is created on the top layers). For some time Pd was used as cure for tuberculosis but there were many side effects so it was banned. Pd is not very toxic since our body is not able to absorb it, but there is some evidence that it may be carcinogenic.

Dragallur

Pallas picture
Palladium picture
Catalytic converter
Palladium demand
Pie graph of production
Kitco 2001 graph
World map of Pd production

 

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