Richard (Rick) Mills
Ahead of the Herd
As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information
Platinium Group Elements
The platinum-group elements (PGEs) are a group of six elements—platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), iridium (Ir), osmium (Os), and ruthenium, (Ru). They have similar physical and chemical properties, are among the most scarce of the metallic elements and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits. The elements of most commercial significance are platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
Industrial use of PGE is centered primarily around their catalytic properties and extreme heat and corrosion resistance. Some of the most important uses are:
· Production of nitric acid using airborne nitrogen to manufacture nitrate fertilizer essential to grow grain
· Enhancing the production of gasoline from heavy crude
· Used in automotive catalytic converters to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions
PGMs are also used in bushings for making glass fibers used in fiber-reinforced plastic and other advanced materials, in electrical contacts, in capacitors, in conductive and resistive films used in electronic circuits, in dental alloys used for making crowns and bridges, and in jewelry.
The vast majority of the worlds PGE production comes as a by-product of nickel ore processing - the huge quantities of nickel ore processed makes up for the fact that PGEs makes up a very small percentage of the ore.
The PGEs are regarded as strategic metals because of their specialized applications in the automotive, agriculture, chemical, petroleum, electrical, electronic, dental, medical, and aerospace industries.
South Africa, with vast platinum ore deposits in the Merensky Reef of the Bushveld complex, is the world's largest producer of platinum, followed by Russia - Russia and South Africa have nearly all the world’s reserves.
Scandium is a soft, light metal that might have applications in the aerospace industry. With a cost approaching $300 per gram scandium is too expensive for widespread use. Scandium is a byproduct from the extraction of other elements – uranium mining, nickel and cobalt laterite mines - and is sold as scandium oxide.
The absence of reliable, secure, stable and long term production has limited commercial applications of scandium in most countries. This is despite a comprehensive body of research and a large number of patents which identify significant benefits for the use of scandium over other elements.
Particularly promising are the properties of stabilizing zirconia and strengthening aluminium alloys (0.5% scandium). Scandia-stabilized zirconia has a growing market demand for use as a high efficiency electrolyte in solid oxide fuel cells - it is expected that scandium-aluminum alloys will be important in the manufacture of fuel cells.
Alloys of scandium and aluminum are used in some kinds of athletic equipment, such as aluminum baseball bats, bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks.
Scandium iodide (ScI3) is added to mercury vapor lamps so that they will emit light that closely resembles sunlight.
Access to raw materials at competitive prices has become essential to the functioning of all industrialized economies. As we move forward developing and developed countries will, with their:
Continue to place extraordinary demands on our ability to access and distribute the planets natural resources.
Richard (Rick) Mills
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