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Facts About Platinum

Platinum
Platinum
Credit: Andrei Marincas | Shutterstock

Atomic Number: 78
Atomic Symbol: Pt
Atomic Weight: 195.084
Melting Point: 3,215 F (1,768.4 C)
Boiling Point: 6,917 F (3,825 C)

Word origin: The term platinum comes from the Spanish word platina, meaning silver.

Discovery: The metal was used by pre-Columbian Americans to make artifacts.

Properties of platinum

Platinum is a silvery-white metal used since pre-Columbian times. It’s very malleable, ductile and does not oxidize in air at any temperature. Platinum has six naturally occurring isotopes. The metal can absorb large volumes of hydrogen and retain it during regular temperatures.

Sources of platinum

Platinum is a naturally occurring metal that is found with many of the other platinum group elements. They are commonly found in alluvial deposits throughout the Ural Mountains and in many western American states. Considerable amounts are found in sperrylite.

Uses of platinum

Platinum’s resistance to tarnish makes it ideal for use in fine jewelry.

The metal is also used to make crucibles, special containers, as a catalyst, in dental crowns, as an anti-tumor agent and to make standard weights and measures. It is also combined with cobalt to produce very strong magnets.

Platinum anodes are used in cathodic protection systems for structures such as ocean-going vessels, pipelines and steel piers. As the element can handle high temperatures for long periods of time, it’s also used for coating missile nose cones, jet engine fuel nozzles and the like.

Platinum wire can act as a catalyst converting methyl alcohol to formaldehyde. This has found applications in hand warmers and cigarette lighters. It can also be used as a catalyst for cracking petroleum products and there is commercial interest in using the element in fuel cells and in anti-pollution devices for vehicles.

(Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

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