Periodic Table -> Platinum


Platinum Details

Platinum Symbol: Pt

Platinum Atomic Number: 78

Platinum Atomic Weight: 195.078

What is Platinum?

Platinum (atomic number 78, symbol Pt) is a precious, dense metal and one of the rarest elements on earth. It is found in gold-bearing deposits in the USA, Columbia, and the Ural Mountains. Platinum is ductile, malleable, silvery-white or gray-white in color, and non-reactive.

It occurs as a free element and in the composition of the mineral sperrylite. Platinum is a byproduct from the extraction and processing of copper and nickel. When copper is electro-refined, platinum group metals, gold, silver, tellurium, and selenium settle in the form of anode mud. Platinum group metals are obtained during the next steps of the extraction process.

Platinum is less malleable than gold and more ductile than elements such as silver and gold. The element forms hexachloroplatinic acid when dissolved in nitro-hydrochloric acid but is insoluble in nitric acid and solution of hydrogen oxide. It corrodes when reacting with caustic alkalis, sulfur, cyanides, and halogens.

The metal is commonly used as a catalyst and in catalytic converters, which combine oxygen with fuel and carbonous oxide. The element has applications in machinery for which high temperature is required. It is also used in fuel nozzles, nose cones for coat missiles, steel piers, and furnaces. In addition, platinum is used to make jewelry because it is resistant to tarnish and wear. The metal has application in the chemical, aircraft, glass, and electrical industries. It is used to produce electrical contact points, liquid crystal display glass, laboratory utensils and surgical tools, as well as optical fibers. Fuel cells use platinum to produce electricity by combining oxygen and hydrogen.

Breitling, Rolex, and Patek Philippe and other companies use the metal for watch making. It is mainly used for the production of limited addition series. In addition, platinum has application as an alloying agent for thermocouples, dental prostheses, laboratory containers, and other metal products. Permanent magnets are made from platinum-cobalt alloy. The metal is also used in anodes for pipelines and ships.

Platinum has a total of 6 natural isotopes. Platinum-196, platinum-195, and platinum-194 are the most common. All isotopes are non-radioactive or stable, except for platinum-190, which has a long half-life (700 billion years). The metal forms two main types of compounds oxides and halides. The most important compound of the element is hexachloroplatinic acid, which has many commercial applications. It is used in the production of mirrors, plating, zinc etchings, as a catalyst, in photography, and to make porcelain coloring.

The element occurs in low concentrations in air, water, and soil. Rich deposits of platinum are found in the USA, the Soviet Union, and South Africa. While the metal is non-toxic, platinum salts can be harmful for human health. They can cause hearing damage, bone marrow and kidney damage, cancer, and DNA alterations. Platinum salts also cause damage to the intestines and allergic reactions. Short-term exposure may cause irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes. Long-term exposure to platinum salts leads to skin allergies and respiratory problems. The side effects of platinum should be studied further as the metal is used for the production of different types of implants. These include vascular access ports, joint replacement prosthetics, breast implants, and lumbar discs.

Finally, platinum levels increase through car exhausts and are higher in locations of trucking companies, in tunnels, and in garages.

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