Platinum - Pt
The name platinum is derived from the Spanish "platina", meaning "little silver".
Platinum is a lustrous silvery-white, malleable, ductile metal and a member of group 10 of the periodic table of the elements. It has the third highest density, behind osmium and iridium. Platinum is unaffected by air and water, but will dissolve in hot aqua regia, in hot concentrated phosphoric and sulphuric acids, and in molten alkali. It is as resistant as gold to corrosion and tarnishing. Indeed, platinum will not oxidize in air no matter how strongly it is heated.
It has a coefficient of expansion almost equal to that of soda-lime-silica glass, and is therefore used to make sealed electrodes in glass systems. Hydrogen and oxygen gas mixtures explode in the presence of platinum wire.
Platinum has many uses. Its wear- and tarnish-resistance characteristics are well-suited for making fine jewelry. Platinum and its alloys are used in surgical tools, laboratory utensils, electrical resistance wires, and electrical contact points. It is used (30%) as a catalyst in the catalytic converter, an optional component of the gasoline-fuelled automobile exhaust system. The largest use (50%) of platinum is for jewellery, another 20% is used in industry: platinum is used in the chemical, electrical, glass and aircraft industries, each accounting for about 10 tonnes of the metal per year. The glass industry uses platinum for optical fibers and liquid crystal display glass, especially for laptops.
Platinum in the environment
Platinum primary occurrence is with other metal ores associated with basic igneous rocks. Platinum nuggets occur naturally as the uncombined metal, as does an alloy of platinum-iridium. Three-quarters of the world's platinum comes from South Africa, where it occurs as cooperite, while Russia is the second largest produced, followed by North America. World production of platinum is around 155 tonnes a year and reserves total more than 30.000 tonnes
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