Is it Silver, Gold, Platinum, Palladium, or Rhodium?
When you think of Precious Metals – you mostly think of Gold, Silver, and Platinum. But the rarest of all Precious Metals is actually Rhodium. Of all non-radioactive metals in the world that is. What’s so “precious” about Rhodium? Most associate Rhodium as being just a catalyst metal. The behind the scenes metal of catalytic converters. There is nothing “precious” going on there! It’s getting grimey and downright dirty. Clogged like your plumbing lines. Okay, I’m exaggerating. But when you think of precious, you think of: beloved, of great value, elegant, refined. Emphasizing on the value and elegance.
Did ya know – it is used in jewelry as well. Made into bullion too! Say what? Now there’s something precious after all!
Science of Rh-rendering
Discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston. He collaborated with Smithson Tennant in a commercial venture. Part of which was to produce pure platinum for sale. The first step in the process was to dissolve ordinary platinum in aqua regia. Which I just learned is a nitric acid and hydrochloric acid mix. However, not all of it went into a solution. Thus, leaving behind a black residue.
Tennant investigated this residue. From it he eventually isolated osmium and iridium. While Wollaston concentrated on the solution of dissolved platinum. Which also contained palladium. He removed these metals by the chemical precipitation method. Left from that was a beautiful red solution. From which he obtained rose-colored red crystals/salts. Known as sodium rhodium chloride. AKA Na3RhCl6. From them he eventually produced a sample of the metal itself.
Rhodium got it’s name from the Greek word “rhodon”. Meaning rose. Hence, being named after it’s rose-colored red crystals/salts.
What is Rh-odium?
The precious of all precious metals. Rhodium is a hard, silvery, but durable metal that has a high reflectance. It has a higher melting point and lower density than even platinum. Leaving it completely insoluble in nitric acid. But only slightly dis-solvable in aqua regia. Found in Platinum and Nickel ores.
Part of which makes it an excellent catalyst. With a preferred usage over other metals as well. Not silver. Not Gold. Nor Platinum. Can handle quite this magnum. But from within the thorns, a rose of Rhodium is born. We buy and sell Rhodium bullion!!
Rhodium: A Catalyst
Today, Rhodium is one of the catalysts in the three-way catalytic converter in automobiles. What does a three-way catalytic converter do?
A catalytic converter is a device used in emissions control systems. It reduces harmful exhaust emissions by converting toxic pollutants (byproducts of fuel combustion) into less toxic gases. A three-way catalytic converter works:
- Reduction of NOx (Nitrogen oxides) to N2 (nitrogen) and O2 (Oxygen).
- NOx + CO → N2 + CO2
NOx + H2 → H2O + N2
- NOx + CO → N2 + CO2
- Oxidation of CO (Carbon Monoxide to less-harmful CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)
- CO + O2 → CO2
- As well as, oxidation of HC (Un-burned Hydrocarbons) to CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and H2O (Water)
- H2 + O2 → H2O
HC + O2 → CO2 + H2O
- H2 + O2 → H2O
Vehicle emissions control systems in North America (and other countries as well) have used it since 1981. Most vehicles will have a version of the current three-catalytic converter. Most commonly associated with the engines of cars and other vehicles. But they can be used with a wide range of other engine types as well. For example, generators, water pumps, and lawnmowers can all use catalytic converters.
The Catalysts Of a Catalytic Converter
The most commonly used precious metals that act as catalysts in catalytic converters are Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium. The core value in a catalytic converter is providing the catalysts for reactions to lower harmful exhaust emissions.
- Can act as a catalyst for both reduction and oxidation reactions.
- Acts as a catalyst for oxidation reactions.
- Acts as a reduction catalyst.
From Catalyst to Jewelry Flasher – Streaker Alert!
Typically Rhodium is found as an electroplated metal in Jewelry. Typically electroplated over white gold jewelry and platinum jewelry. This is done to give it a reflective white surface when you first buy it. As well as give it a protective coat against scratches. Over time, mostly with wear, it eventually fades away. The jewelry business refers to this as, Rhodium Flashing.
We have seen plating with Gold and Silver as well. For instance, 14K GP (Gold Plated), or 14K GF (Gold Filled), or 14K GE (Gold Electroplated).
It has also been known to be used to coat sterling silver. To protect from tarnishing. As well as, allow silver allergic people to wear silver jewelry. However, pure rhodium jewelry is very rare. High priced indeed; however, that’s not why. Mostly because of its high melting point and poor malleability. It’s high prices though do contribute. It ensures it is mostly used as an electroplating application to more affordable metals. Such as Gold, Silver, and Platinum.
Electroplated Sterling Silver Flatware
In the 1930’s Rhodium Flashing was used by some silver flatware companies. For tarnishing reasons, requiring less polishing. A HUGE selling point for Sterling Silver Flatware!
No More Bullion Around!
Looking to get into the precious metals market? Maybe even up the ante – to a rare precious metals market. There may be no better way than the Rhodium Bar. This one pictured is from Baird & Company.
The Tuvalu South Sea Dragon Coin is the world’s fist legal tender rhodium coin. It is legal tender in Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific that became independent of Great Britain in 1978.
Who buys Rhodium?
Vermillion Enterprises! That’s who! Most dealers around only buy Gold & Silver. Some Platinum. But Palladium and Rhodium – that’s typically only found online. Your Rhodium dealer is here! Trust that Vermillion Enteprises will give you the fairest rates around! Do you have Rhodium you want to sell? Stop by or try our Mail in Services today!
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