Rhodium
Overview
 
Rhodium is a chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 that is a rare, silvery-white, hard and chemically inert transition metal
Transition metal
The term transition metal has two possible meanings:*The IUPAC definition states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Group 12 elements are not transition metals in this definition.*Some...

 and a member of the platinum group
Platinum group
The platinum group metals is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table.These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block .The six...

. It has the chemical symbol
Chemical symbol
A chemical symbol is a 1- or 2-letter internationally agreed code for a chemical element, usually derived from the name of the element, often in Latin. Only the first letter is capitalised...

 Rh and atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 45. It is composed of only one isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed with similar metals, and never as a chemical compound. It is one of the rarest precious metal
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

s, and the most costly.

Rhodium is a so-called noble metal
Noble metal
Noble metals are metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air, unlike most base metals. They tend to be precious, often due to their rarity in the Earth's crust...

, resistant to corrosion, found in platinum- or nickel ores together with the other members of the platinum group
Platinum group
The platinum group metals is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table.These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block .The six...

 metals.
Encyclopedia
Rhodium is a chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 that is a rare, silvery-white, hard and chemically inert transition metal
Transition metal
The term transition metal has two possible meanings:*The IUPAC definition states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Group 12 elements are not transition metals in this definition.*Some...

 and a member of the platinum group
Platinum group
The platinum group metals is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table.These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block .The six...

. It has the chemical symbol
Chemical symbol
A chemical symbol is a 1- or 2-letter internationally agreed code for a chemical element, usually derived from the name of the element, often in Latin. Only the first letter is capitalised...

 Rh and atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 45. It is composed of only one isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed with similar metals, and never as a chemical compound. It is one of the rarest precious metal
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

s, and the most costly.

Rhodium is a so-called noble metal
Noble metal
Noble metals are metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air, unlike most base metals. They tend to be precious, often due to their rarity in the Earth's crust...

, resistant to corrosion, found in platinum- or nickel ores together with the other members of the platinum group
Platinum group
The platinum group metals is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table.These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block .The six...

 metals. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston FRS was an English chemist and physicist who is famous for discovering two chemical elements and for developing a way to process platinum ore.-Biography:...

 in one such ore, and named for the rose color of one of its chlorine compounds, produced after it reacted with the powerful acid mixture aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

.

The element's major use (about 80% of world rhodium production) is as one of the catalysts in the three-way catalytic converters of automobiles. Because rhodium metal is inert against corrosion and most aggressive chemicals, and because of its rarity, rhodium is usually alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

ed with platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 or palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

 and applied in high-temperature and corrosion-resistive coatings. White gold is often plated with a thin rhodium layer to improve its optical impression while sterling silver
Sterling silver
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925....

 is often rhodium plated for tarnish resistance.

Rhodium detectors are used in nuclear reactors to measure the neutron flux level
Neutron detection
Neutron detection is the effective detection of neutrons entering a well-positioned detector. There are two key aspects to effective neutron detection: hardware and software. Detection hardware refers to the kind of neutron detector used and to the electronics used in the detection setup...

.

History

Rhodium (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 rhodon (ῥόδον) meaning "rose") was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston FRS was an English chemist and physicist who is famous for discovering two chemical elements and for developing a way to process platinum ore.-Biography:...

, soon after his discovery of palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

. He used crude platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 ore presumably obtained from South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. His procedure involved dissolving the ore in aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

 and neutralizing the acid with sodium hydroxide (NaOH). He then precipitated the platinum by adding ammonium chloride
Ammonium chloride
Ammonium chloride NH4Cl is an inorganic compound with the formula NH4Cl. It is a white crystalline salt that is highly soluble in water. Solutions of ammonium chloride are mildly acidic. Sal ammoniac is a name of natural, mineralogical form of ammonium chloride...

, , as ammonium chloroplatinate. Most other metals like copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

 and rhodium were precipitated with zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

. Diluted nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 dissolved all but palladium and rhodium, which were dissolved in aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

, and the rhodium was precipitated by the addition of sodium chloride
Sodium chloride
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, common salt, table salt or halite, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms...

 as . After being washed with ethanol, the rose-red precipitate was reacted with zinc, which displaced the rhodium in the ionic compound and thereby released the rhodium as free metal.

After the discovery the rare element had only minor applications, for example by the turn of the century rhodium-containing thermocouples were used to measure temperatures up to 1800°C. The first major application was electroplating for decorative uses and as corrosion resistant coating. The introduction of the three way catalytic converter by Volvo
Volvo
AB Volvo is a Swedish builder of commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses and construction equipment. Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems, aerospace components and financial services...

 in 1976 increased the demand for rhodium. The previous catalytic converters used platinum or palladium while the three way catalytic converter used rhodium to reduce the amount of NOx
NOx
NOx is a generic term for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 . They are produced from the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen gases in the air during combustion, especially at high temperatures...

 in the exhaust.

Characteristics

Rhodium is a hard, silvery, durable metal that has a high reflectance. Rhodium metal does not normally form an oxide
Oxide
An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom in its chemical formula. Metal oxides typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2....

, even when heated. Oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 is absorbed from the atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

 only at the melting point
Melting point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at standard atmospheric pressure...

 of rhodium, but is released on solidification. Rhodium has both a higher melting point and lower density
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 than platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

. It is not attacked by most acid
Acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

s: it is completely insoluble in nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 and dissolves slightly in aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

.

Chemical properties

Rhodium belongs to group 9
Group 9 element
In modern IUPAC nomenclature, Group 9 of the periodic table contains the elements cobalt , rhodium , iridium , and meitnerium . These are all d-block transition metals...

 of the periodic table but has an atypical configuration in its outermost electron shells compared to the rest of the members. This can also be observed in the neighborhood of niobium
Niobium
Niobium or columbium , is a chemical element with the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It's a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite...

 (41), ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

 (44), and palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

 (46).
Z
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 
Element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 
No. of electrons/shell
Electron shell
An electron shell may be thought of as an orbit followed by electrons around an atom's nucleus. The closest shell to the nucleus is called the "1 shell" , followed by the "2 shell" , then the "3 shell" , and so on further and further from the nucleus. The shell letters K,L,M,.....

27 cobalt 2, 8, 15, 2
45 rhodium 2, 8, 18, 16, 1
77 iridium 2, 8, 18, 32, 15, 2
109 meitnerium 2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 15, 2

Oxidation states
of rhodium
+0
+1
+2
+3
+4
+5
+6


The common oxidation state
Oxidation state
In chemistry, the oxidation state is an indicator of the degree of oxidation of an atom in a chemical compound. The formal oxidation state is the hypothetical charge that an atom would have if all bonds to atoms of different elements were 100% ionic. Oxidation states are typically represented by...

 of rhodium is +3, but oxidation states from +0 to +6 are also observed.

Unlike ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

 and osmium
Osmium
Osmium is a chemical element with the symbol Os and atomic number 76. Osmium is a hard, brittle, blue-gray or blue-blacktransition metal in the platinum family, and is the densest natural element. Osmium is twice as dense as lead. The density of osmium is , slightly greater than that of iridium,...

, rhodium forms no volatile oxygen compounds. The known stable oxides include , , , , and . Halogen compounds are known in nearly the full range of possible oxidation states. Rhodium(III) chloride
Rhodium(III) chloride
Rhodium chloride refers to inorganic compounds with the formula RhCl3n, where n varies from 0 to 3. These are diamagnetic solids featuring octahedral Rh centres. Depending on the value of n, the material is either a dense brown solid or a soluble reddish salt...

, rhodium(IV) fluoride, rhodium(V) fluoride and rhodium(VI) fluoride are some examples. The lower oxidation states are only stable if ligands are present.

The best-known rhodium-halogen compound is the Wilkinson's catalyst
Wilkinson's catalyst
Wilkinson's catalyst is the common name for chlorotrisrhodium, a coordination compound with the formula RhCl3 . It is named after the late organometallic chemist and 1973 Nobel Laureate, Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson who popularized its use.-Structure and basic properties:The compound is a square planar,...

 chlorotris(triphenylphosphine)rhodium(I). This catalyst is used, for example, in the hydroformylation or hydrogenation
Hydrogenation
Hydrogenation, to treat with hydrogen, also a form of chemical reduction, is a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst. The process is commonly employed to reduce or saturate organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically...

 of alkene
Alkene
In organic chemistry, an alkene, olefin, or olefine is an unsaturated chemical compound containing at least one carbon-to-carbon double bond...

s.

Isotopes

Naturally occurring rhodium is composed of only one isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

, 103Rh. The most stable radioisotopes are 101Rh with a half-life
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 of 3.3 years, 102Rh with a half-life
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 of 207 days, 102mRh with a half-life
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 of 2.9 years, and 99Rh with a half-life of 16.1 days. Twenty other radioisotopes have been characterized with atomic weight
Atomic weight
Atomic weight is a dimensionless physical quantity, the ratio of the average mass of atoms of an element to 1/12 of the mass of an atom of carbon-12...

s ranging from 92.926 u
Atomic mass unit
The unified atomic mass unit or dalton is a unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale. It is defined as one twelfth of the rest mass of an unbound neutral atom of carbon-12 in its nuclear and electronic ground state, and has a value of...

 (93Rh) to 116.925 u (117Rh). Most of these have half-lives shorter than an hour, except 100Rh (half-life: 20.8 hours) and 105Rh (half-life: 35.36 hours). There are also numerous meta states, the most stable being 102mRh (0.141 MeV) with a half-life of about 2.9 years and 101mRh (0.157 MeV) with a half-life of 4.34 days. (See isotopes of rhodium
Isotopes of rhodium
Naturally occurring rhodium is composed of only one stable isotope, 103Rh. The most stable radioisotopes are 101Rh with a half-life of 3.3 years, 102Rh with a half-life of 207 days, 102mRh with a half-life of 2.9 years, and 99Rh with a half-life of 16.1 days. Thirty other radioisotopes have been...

).

The primary decay mode before the only stable isotope, 103Rh, is electron capture
Electron capture
Electron capture is a process in which a proton-rich nuclide absorbs an inner atomic electron and simultaneously emits a neutrino...

 and the primary mode after is beta emission. The primary decay product
Decay product
In nuclear physics, a decay product is the remaining nuclide left over from radioactive decay. Radioactive decay often involves a sequence of steps...

 before 103Rh is ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

 and the primary product after is palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

.

Normal mining

The industrial extraction of rhodium is complex as the metal occurs in ores mixed with other metals such as palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

, silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

, and gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

. It is found in platinum ores and extracted as a white inert metal which is very difficult to fuse. Principal sources are located in South Africa, in river sands of the Ural Mountains
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

, and in North America, including the copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

-nickel sulfide mining area of the Sudbury, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 region. Although the quantity at Sudbury is very small, the large amount of processed nickel ore makes rhodium recovery cost-effective. The main exporter of rhodium is South Africa (>80%) followed by Russia. The annual world production of this element is only about 25 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s and there are very few rhodium-bearing mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

s. The price of rhodium is historically highly variable. In 2007, rhodium cost approximately eight times more than gold, 450 times more than silver, and 27,250 times more than copper by weight. Rhodium's typical historical price is about $1,000/troy oz, but in recent years, it has increased to about $4500/troy oz. In 2008, the price briefly rose above $10,000 per ounce. The economic slowdown of the 3rd quarter of 2008 pushed rhodium prices sharply back below $1,000 per ounce, but they rebounded to $2,750 by early 2010 (over twice the gold price).

Used nuclear fuels

Rhodium is a fission product of uranium-235
Uranium-235
- References :* .* DOE Fundamentals handbook: Nuclear Physics and Reactor theory , .* A piece of U-235 the size of a grain of rice can produce energy equal to that contained in three tons of coal or fourteen barrels of oil. -External links:* * * one of the earliest articles on U-235 for the...

; therefore, each kilogram of fission products contains significant amounts of the lighter platinum group metals including rhodium. Used nuclear fuel might be a possible source for rhodium. However, the extraction is complex and expensive, and the also present radioactive isotopes of rhodium would require a storage for several half-lives of the decaying isotopes in order to reduce the radioactivity. This makes this source of rhodium unattractive and no large-scale extraction has been attempted.

Applications

The primary use of this element is in automobiles as a catalytic converter
Catalytic converter
A catalytic converter is a device used to convert toxic exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine into non-toxic substances. Inside a catalytic converter, a catalyst stimulates a chemical reaction in which noxious byproducts of combustion are converted to less toxic substances by dint...

, which changes harmful emissions from the engine into less polluting gases.

Catalyst

In 2007, 81% of the world production of rhodium was consumed to produce three-way catalytic converters. Rhodium shows some advantages over the other platinum metals in the reduction
Redox
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 and oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

:
2 → x +


The recycling of catalytic converters also became a valuable source for rhodium. In 2007, 5.7 t were extracted from this source. Compared to the 22 t which had been mined, this is a relatively high recycling rate.

Rhodium-based catalysts are used in a number of industrial processes; notably, in the automobile catalytic converter
Catalytic converter
A catalytic converter is a device used to convert toxic exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine into non-toxic substances. Inside a catalytic converter, a catalyst stimulates a chemical reaction in which noxious byproducts of combustion are converted to less toxic substances by dint...

s and for catalytic carbonylation of methanol to produce acetic acid
Acetic acid
Acetic acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3CO2H . It is a colourless liquid that when undiluted is also called glacial acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main component of vinegar , and has a distinctive sour taste and pungent smell...

 by the Monsanto process
Monsanto process
The Monsanto process is an important method for the manufacture of acetic acid by catalytic carbonylation of methanol. This process operates at a pressure of 30–60 atm and a temperature of 150–200 °C and gives a selectivity greater than 99%. It was developed 1960 by German BASF and...

. It is also used to catalyze addition of hydrosilanes to molecular double bond
Double bond
A double bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving four bonding electrons instead of the usual two. The most common double bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkenes. Many types of double bonds between two different elements exist, for example in...

s, a process important in manufacture of certain silicone rubbers. Rhodium catalysts are also used to reduce benzene
Benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

 to cyclohexane
Cyclohexane
Cyclohexane is a cycloalkane with the molecular formula C6H12. Cyclohexane is used as a nonpolar solvent for the chemical industry, and also as a raw material for the industrial production of adipic acid and caprolactam, both of which being intermediates used in the production of nylon...

.

The complex of a rhodium ion with BINAP
BINAP
BINAP is an abbreviation for the organophosphorus compound 2,2'-bis-1,1'-binaphthyl. This chiral ligand is widely used in asymmetric synthesis. It consists of a pair of 2-diphenylphosphinonaphthyl groups linked at the 1 and 1´ positions. This C2-symmetric framework lacks stereogenic atom, but...

 gives a widely used chiral catalyst for chiral synthesis
Chiral synthesis
Enantioselective synthesis, also called chiral synthesis, asymmetric synthesis or stereoselective synthesis, is organic synthesis that introduces one or more new and desired elements of chirality...

, as in the synthesis of menthol
Menthol
Menthol is an organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. It is a waxy, crystalline substance, clear or white in color, which is solid at room temperature and melts slightly above. The main form of menthol occurring in nature is -menthol, which is assigned...

.

Ornamental uses

Rhodium finds use in jewelry and for decorations. It is electroplated on white gold
White Gold
White Gold is a 2003 Russian action film directed by Viktor Ivanov from a screenplay by John Jopson and Viktor Ivanov. The story begins with the actual events of 1919 when a White Army train carrying the bulk of Czar Nicholas' gold reserves arrives empty at Siberia's Irkutsk station...

 and platinum to give it a reflective white surface. This is known as rhodium flashing in the jewelry business. It may also be used in coating sterling silver
Sterling silver
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925....

 to protect against tarnish, which is silver sulfide
Silver sulfide
Silver sulfide, Ag2S, is the sulfide of silver. This dense black solid constitutes the tarnish that forms over time on silverware and other silver objects. Silver sulfide is insoluble in all solvents, but is degraded by strong acids. Silver sulfide features a covalent bond, as it is made up of...

 (Ag2S) produced from the atmospheric hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Solid (pure) rhodium jewelry is very rare, because the metal has both high melting point and poor malleability (making such jewelry very hard to fabricate) rather than due to its high price. Additionally, its high cost assures that most of its jewelry usage is in the form of tiny amounts of powder (commonly called rhodium sponge) dissolved into electroplating
Electroplating
Electroplating is a plating process in which metal ions in a solution are moved by an electric field to coat an electrode. The process uses electrical current to reduce cations of a desired material from a solution and coat a conductive object with a thin layer of the material, such as a metal...

 solutions.

Rhodium has also been used for honors, or to symbolize wealth, when more commonly used metals such as silver, gold or platinum are deemed insufficient. In 1979, the Guinness Book of World Records gave Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

 a rhodium-plated disc for being history's all-time best-selling songwriter and recording artist.

Other uses

Rhodium is used as an alloying agent for hardening and improving the corrosion resistance of platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 and palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

. These alloys are used in furnace windings, bushings for glass fiber production, thermocouple
Thermocouple
A thermocouple is a device consisting of two different conductors that produce a voltage proportional to a temperature difference between either end of the pair of conductors. Thermocouples are a widely used type of temperature sensor for measurement and control and can also be used to convert a...

 elements, electrode
Electrode
An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit...

s for aircraft spark plug
Spark plug
A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed fuels such as aerosol, gasoline, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas by means of an electric spark.Spark plugs have an insulated central electrode which is connected by...

s, and laboratory crucibles. Other uses include:
  • An electrical contact material due to its low electrical resistance
    Electrical resistance
    The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

    , low and stable contact resistance
    Contact resistance
    The term contact resistance refers to the contribution to the total resistance of a material which comes from the electrical leads and connections as opposed to the intrinsic resistance, which is an inherent property, independent of the measurement method...

    , and high corrosion
    Corrosion
    Corrosion is the disintegration of an engineered material into its constituent atoms due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metals in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen...

     resistance.
  • Plated rhodium, made by electroplating
    Electroplating
    Electroplating is a plating process in which metal ions in a solution are moved by an electric field to coat an electrode. The process uses electrical current to reduce cations of a desired material from a solution and coat a conductive object with a thin layer of the material, such as a metal...

     or evaporation, is extremely hard and is used for optical instruments.

  • It is also used as a filter in mammography
    Mammography
    Mammography is the process of using low-energy-X-rays to examine the human breast and is used as a diagnostic and a screening tool....

     systems because of the characteristic X-rays it produces.

  • Rhodium is also used to coat some parts of high-quality fountain pens due to its high reflectance, as well as its chemical and mechanical resistance. These pens include Graf von Faber-Castell
    Faber-Castell
    Faber-Castell is one of the world's largest manufacturers of pens, pencils, other office supplies and art supplies, as well as high-end writing instruments and luxury leather goods...

     and Caran D'ache
    Caran d'Ache (company)
    -History:It was founded in Geneva in 1924 when Arnold Schweitzer purchased the Ecridor Pencil Factory. Schweitzer named his new company after Caran d'Ache, the nickname of a French satiric political cartoonist from Russia...

    .

  • Rhodium neutron detectors are used in combustion engineering nuclear reactors to measure neutron flux levels – a method that requires a digital filter to determine the current neutron flux level, as there are three signals generated: immediate, a few seconds later, and a minute later, each with its own signal level, and all three are combined in the rhodium detector signals. The three Palo Verde
    Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
    The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located in Wintersburg, Arizona, about 45 miles west of central Phoenix. It is the largest nuclear generation facility in the United States, averaging over 3.3 gigawatts of electrical power production in 2008 to serve...

     nuclear reactors each have 305 rhodium neutron detectors, 61 detectors on each of 5 vertical levels, providing an accurate 3-D "picture" of reactivity and allowing fine tuning to most economically burn the nuclear fuel.

Precautions

Being a noble metal
Noble metal
Noble metals are metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air, unlike most base metals. They tend to be precious, often due to their rarity in the Earth's crust...

, pure rhodium is inert. However, chemical complexes of rhodium can be reactive. Median lethal dose (LD50) for rats is 12.6 mg of rhodium chloride per kilogram of body weight. Rhodium compounds can strongly stain human skin. Like the other noble metals, all of which are too inert to occur as chemical compounds in nature, rhodium has not been found to play, or suspected to play, any biological role. If used in elemental form rather than as compounds, the metal is harmless.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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