Rhodium costs $10,300 an ounce and ranks second to gold as the most costly metallic. Learn what makes Rhodium so valuable and its location.

Rhodium’s versatility, conductivity, endurance and aesthetic appeal are among the primary factors for its place among the five most valuable metals. At present, its value surpasses $1850 an ounce compared to gold which currently trades over $1850 an ounce; an amount which seems impressive but pales in comparison.

Rhodium currently holds the position as world’s most expensive and rare metal, fetching an average one ounce price tag of $10,300.

What makes Rhodium such an expensive metal?

Rhodium belongs to a transition metal series and its chemical inertness with oxygen makes it an excellent catalyst resistant to corrosion or oxidation processes, making it highly prized in industry. With an exceptional hardness rating of 964deg Celsius (3,567 degree Fahrenheit), Rhodium shares its place among palladium, the Osmium metal, platinum, Iridium, and Ruthenium metals as part of the platinum group metals family.

Rhodium’s unique ability to withstand temperatures up to 600 deg Celsius (1,112 degF) and its insolubility with various acids make it an invaluable material in many fields, such as electrical, aviation and automotive components, high temperature thermocouples as well as resistance wires.

Rhodium occurs at an extremely small level on Earth’s crust: only 0.000037 parts per million according to British Royal Society of Chemistry figures. Gold, in contrast, is more plentiful at 0.0013 parts per million according to this same source. Rhodium production takes place predominantly in South Africa and Russia as an end-product from refining nickel and copper ore containing as much as 0.1 percent precious metal content – approximately 16 tonnes are produced every year with reserves totalling 3,000 tonnes being stored for future production.

William Hyde Wollaston, an English scientist, is widely credited with discovering rhodium for the first time in 1803. Wollaston took an element from platinum ore in South America that contained some rhodium; shortly thereafter he also made this discovery about other platinum metals like palladium.

Rhodium was extracted from Wollaston’s sample by first extracting palladium and platinum deposits, then treating with hydrogen gas, producing a dark red powder which hydrogen gas treatment could then reveal as precious rhodium metal.

Rhodium’s name derives from its silvery-white appearance and reflective properties; however, the word itself comes from Greek “rhodon,” or rose in reference to its reddish hue in metal salts created through it.

Unsurprisingly, despite its rarity, beauty, and price tag, current statistics reveal that over 90% of Rhodium consumption comes directly from auto catalyst manufacturers to catalytic converters.

Rhodium’s primary use in alloys is as a hardening agent, often combined with palladium and platinum, often seen in melting reactors or laboratory settings for various functions. Other applications of rhodium include jewelry production as well as electrical contacts for electronic parts (due to its low resistance); chemical processes catalysts (allowing production of L-DOPA by stereoselective methods); covering optical components via Electrolysis that results in incredible durability for this metal; etc.

 

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