Rarest and most expensive metal is not gold
(ORDO NEWS) — Gold is considered to be one of the rarest and most expensive precious metals, but while it ranks high in comparison, there is one metal that surpasses it in both price and rarity.
The cost of various metals is not constant, varying slightly depending on demand and availability.
Due to the versatility of gold, its conductivity, durability and pleasant appearance, it is firmly among the five most expensive metals.
At press time, gold prices are over $1,850 an ounce (roughly $130,000) impressive, but nothing compared to rhodium.
Currently the most expensive precious metal and one of the rarest, the price per ounce of rhodium at the time of publication is 10,300 dollars. So what makes it so expensive?
Rhodium does not readily react with oxygen, making it a noble metal and making it an ideal catalyst, resistant to both corrosion and oxidation.
Its general hardness and high melting point (1964 degrees Celsius) place it among the platinum group metals along with platinum, palladium, osmium, iridium and ruthenium.
The metal’s ability to withstand water and air temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius and remain insoluble in most acids makes rhodium very versatile for use in automobiles, aircraft, electrical contacts, high temperature thermocouples, and resistance wires.
As the rarest of the platinum group metals, rhodium occurs in the earth’s crust at about 0.000037 parts per million, while gold occurs in abundance at about 0.0013 parts per million, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Rhodium, produced mainly in South Africa, can be a by-product of processing copper and nickel ores, which contain up to 0.1 percent of the precious metal. About 16 tons of rhodium are produced annually, and its reserves are estimated at 3,000 tons.
Rhodium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, an English chemist who extracted the element from a piece of platinum ore from South America. The find was made shortly after Wollaston discovered another platinum group metal, palladium.
Rhodium, commonly found with platinum deposits, was obtained from Wollaston’s sample by removing platinum and palladium, leaving a dark red powder that was treated with hydrogen gas to reveal the precious metal rhodium.
While the solid metal shines with a bright, reflective silvery white color, rhodium gets its name from the Greek “rhodon,” meaning “rose.” Its name is associated with the red color of metal salts.
Despite its rarity and beauty, statistics show that nearly 90 percent of rhodium demand is in the autocatalytic sector in the manufacture of catalysts, perhaps a cavalier use of one of the rarest precious metals on Earth.
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