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“Platinum has become a symbol for exclusivity in our time. The rarity of this precious metal has caused its name to be used in the identification of record setting musical albums, high limit credit cards, special DVD collections and other services or items that people wish to designate as being better than their counterparts. While the metal does not see the wide use that other precious metals, such as gold or silver, Platinum is a versatile metal that has come to be regarded highly in the global culture.” —Gold Traders
Platinum has a wide range of uses, including jewelry, catalytic converters, electrical contacts, pacemakers, drugs and magnets. But how much do you really know about this “noble metal?” Get ready for some SERIOUS Platinum #DYK!
- In ancient times, people in Egypt and the Americas used platinum for jewelry and decorative pieces, often times mixed with gold.
- Probably the oldest worked specimen of platinum is that from an ancient Egyptian casket of the 7th century BC, unearthed at Thebes and dedicated to Queen Shapenapit.
- The first recorded reference to platinum was in 1557 when Julius Scaliger, an Italian physician, described a metal found in Central America that wouldn’t melt and called it “platina,” meaning “little silver.”
- In 1741, British scientist Charles Wood published a study introducing platinum as a new metal and described some of its attributes and possible commercial applications, according to Peter van der Krogt a Dutch historian.
- In 1748, Spanish scientist and naval officer Antonio de Ulloa published a description of a metal that was unworkable and unmeltable (platinum). He originally wrote it in 1735, but his papers were confiscated by the British navy.
- In 1772, Carl von Sickingen was the first to succeed in creating a malleable platinum alloy.
- Back in the 18th century, platinum was the eighth known metal and was known as “white gold.” Previously known metals included iron, copper, silver, tin, gold, mercury and lead.
- In the early 1800s, friends and colleagues William Hyde Wollaston and Smithson Tennant, both British chemists, produced and sold purified platinum that they isolated using a technique developed by Wollaston.
- In 1784, the first Platinum crucible was invented by Franz Karl Achard, who used Platinum’s known property of fusing with Arsenic to achieve the process.
- Louis XV of France declared Platinum as the only metal fit for a king.
- Nearly 40 years after Ulloa’s return to Spain, Charles III of Spain awarded a complete library and laboratory to Pierre-François Chabaneau to devote to the study of Platinum.
- The “Platinum Age” of Spain began with Pierre-François Chabaneau and his business partner manufacturing expensive Platinum ingots and utensils for sale.
- The first British crown made of platinum was the one made for Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother on her coronation as consort of King George VI.
- A cylindrical hunk of platinum and platinum alloy is used as the international standard for measuring a kilogram. In the 1880s, about 40 of these cylinders, which weigh about 2.2 lbs. or 1 kilogram, were distributed around the world.
- The majority (about 80%) of platinum is mined in South Africa. Approximately 10% is mined in Russia, and the rest is found in North and South America.
- Nearly 14 times more gold than platinum is mined per year.
- Most of the famous diamonds in the world, such as the Hope Diamond, Jonker I, Koh-I-Noor, and many items in Elizabeth Taylor’s collection (according to Bulgari), are set in platinum.
- In 1844, Michele Peyrone, an Italian chemist, accidently discovered that platinum has anti-neoplastic properties (which means it prohibits the development of tumors).
- In 1971 the first human cancer patient was treated with platinum-containing drugs.
- The top three producers of Platinum are South Africa, Russia, and Zimbabwe.
- All of the Platinum ever mined would fit in the average size living room.
- In contrast with Gold and Silver, there are no large above-ground Platinum Bullion stockpiles to protect against significant supply disruptions.
- Virtually all of the platinum mined in South Africa is committed to industrial contracts.
- When World War II began, the U.S. government declared Platinum a strategic metal and its use in non-military applications, including jewelry, was disallowed.
- 90% of the worlds annual supply of Platinum is extracted from four mines. Three of these mines are located on the continent of Africa.
- Most of the platinum in the United States comes from the Stillwater Mine in Montana.
- In 2007, German scientist, Gerhard Ertl was awarded the Nobel prize for his research into the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide over platinum, a discovery which led to the creation of the catalytic converter, a pollution reducing device that is standard on nearly all gasoline and diesel powered vehicles in the world.
- Platinum is used in significant amounts as compared to its availability. It has been estimated that, if all mining were stopped today, the world’s currently available Platinum supply would be exhausted in one year or less.
- Platinum is rare — there are only about 5 parts per billion by weight in Earth’s crust.
- Platinum is extremely resistant to tarnishing and corrosion, for which it is known as a “noble metal.”
- Platinum is one of the transition metals, a group that includes gold, silver, copper and titanium.
- Platinum is one of the densest elements at 12.4 ounces per cubic inch, a little more than 21 times the density of water or 6 times the density of a diamond.
- Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 78
- Atomic symbol (on the periodic table of elements): Pt
- Atomic weight (average mass of the atom): 195.1
- Number of natural isotopes: 6. There are also 37 artificial isotopes.
- Artificially radioactive isotopes of platinum have been produced. These isotopes are produced when very small particles are fired at atoms. No radioactive isotope of platinum has any commercial application.
- Most common isotopes: Pt-195 (33.83% of natural abundance), Pt-194 (32.97% of natural abundance), Pt-196 (25.24% of natural abundance), Pt-198 (7.16% of natural abundance), Pt-192 (0.78% of natural abundance), Pt-190 (0.01% of natural abundance)
- Platinum, iridium, osmium, palladium, ruthenium, and rhodium are all members of the same group of metals (called the platinum metals) and share similar properties.
- Because platinum and other platinum metals usually aren’t found in large amounts, they are often byproducts from mining other metals.
- Ten tons of ore and a five month process is needed to generate one ounce of Platinum Bullion.
- As with all precious metals (Gold, Silver, etc.), Platinum can be scratched. However, with Platinum, there is actually no material lost from the scratch as there is with Gold.
- Platinum forms chloroplatinic acid when dissolved in aqua regia but it cannot be dissolved with either hydrochloric or nitric acids.
- An unusual property of platinum is that it will absorb large quantities of hydrogen gas at high temperatures. The platinum soaks up hydrogen the way a sponge soaks up water.
- Platinum is used in several anti-cancer drugs because of its very low reactivity levels.
- Platinum is also used in pacemakers, dental crowns, and other equipment used within the human body because of its resistance to corrosion from bodily fluids and lack of reactivity to bodily functions.
- According to Total Materia, nearly half of the platinum that is mined is used in catalytic converters, the part of the automobile that reduces toxic gases into less-toxic emissions.
- Platinum combined with cobalt creates strong, permanent magnets, according to Chemicool. These magnets have many uses, including in medical instruments, motors, watches, and more.
- Platinum is often used as a catalyst in the production of several solutions and byproducts (that end up in substances such as fertilizers, plastics and gasoline and in fuel cells), increasing their efficiency.
- Approximately 30 percent of mined platinum is used in jewelry, according to Total Materia.
- The electronics industry uses platinum for computer hard disks and thermocouples.
- Platinum is also used to make optical fibres and LCDs, turbine blades, and spark plugs.
- Platinum is used for coating missile nose cones and jet engine fuel nozzles.
- Platinum anodes are extensively used in cathodic protection systems for large ships and ocean-going vessels, pipelines, steel piers.
- Platinum wire glows red hot when placed in the vapor of methanol – acting as a catalyst to convert the alcohol into formaldehyde. This phenomenon has been used commercially to produce cigarette lighters and hand warmers.
- Legendary jewelers such as Cartier, Faberge and Tiffany created their timeless designs in Platinum.
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