10 Things You Need To Know About The Metal Palladium

Social IssuesEnvironment

  • Author Abir Dom
  • Published November 14, 2011
  • Word count 480

Palladium is represented by the symbol Pd on the periodic table and its atomic number is 46. The name of this element sounds like something that would be in close association with royalty, and for good reason. However, this silvery-white and lustrous metal’s name was derived from the word "Pallas", which was actually an asteroid.

Now you see why many associate palladium with richness. There is still much to learn about palladium and we’re going to start you off with 10 interested facts below.

  1. The discovery of palladium is credited to William Hyde Wollaston, who discovered the new metal in July of 1802. He named it the next month. He purified a fair amount of the metal and provided it to a Soho shop in April of the following year. After this, palladium met with some criticism from Richard Chenevix, who believed that palladium was instead a mercury-platinum alloy, but that was soon put to rest.

  2. Palladium resembles platinum in many ways. The metal is soft and silvery-white in color. Of all of the platinum metals, palladium has the lowest density and melting point. When annealed, it becomes softer and more ductile; however, when cold-worked, its hardness and strength increase.

  3. In hydrochloric, nitric and sulfuric acid, palladium will dissolve slowly. Yet, it fails to react in normal temperatures with oxygen. Instead, it must be heated to temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius or more to produce a palladium oxide layer. Moist atmospheres that contain sulfur can cause palladium to tarnish lightly.

  4. Palladium possesses amazing absorption properties, capable of absorbing its hydrogen volume as much as 900 times at room temperature. However, when this occurs, palladium does slightly expand in size.

  5. January of 2001 witnessed palladium hit a high of $1100 a troy ounce. At this time, the Russian palladium supply had been delayed repeatedly due to political reasons. At this same time, Ford Motor Company feared a shortage; thus stockpiling huge amounts of palladium. However, prices fell drastically after January and the company ended up losing almost $1 billion dollars.

  6. Russia held the top position for palladium production in 2007, supplying nearly 44% of the world’s palladium supply. The same year, South Africa followed closely; supplying 40%. Canada and the United States follow, producing 6% and 5% respectively.

  7. Palladium is used widely in the production of catalytic converters. However, there are many applications that palladium is involved in, including watch making, jewelry, dentistry, blood glucose test strips, spark plugs for aircraft, transverse flutes, electrical contacts and surgical instruments.

  8. ISO currency codes are assigned to palladium bullion. Those codes are 964 and XPD and a mere four metals actually have these codes. Those metals are gold, platinum and silver; making palladium quite the commodity.

  9. Palladium metal has the potential to be pyrophoric, though in bulk, the material is considered to be fairly inert. Still, some reports of contact dermatitis exist.

  10. Catalytic converters that contain palladium actually distribute it in the vehicle’s exhaust.

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