Blog Post
September 27, 2022
Metal Recovery

What Are The Most Commonly Recovered Metals and Their Sources?

Here at RSBruce, we have been helping our clients to recover precious metals from solids and liquids for over 35 years, recovering £1.5 billion in the process. However, one of the most commonly asked questions that our clients ask is what the most common metals we can recover and where they come from.

That is why in this blog, we thought we would take a closer look at five of the most common metals that our team are able to help you recover.

1) Ruthenium

One of the most common metals currently being sourced is Ruthenium. This is a highly valuable metal for the electronics industry and is widely used as part of chip resistors and electrical contacts. It is also commonly used in the world of chemicals, with Ruthenium oxide helping to coat the anodes of electrochemical cells used for chlorine production.

Ruthenium can also be found acting as a catalyst in the production of ammonia and acetic acid production, while compounds of the metal are also used in cells of solar panels, helping to turn light energy into electrical energy.

2) Platinum

While the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word Platinum is jewellery, the metal is actually primarily used in automobiles. It forms part of the catalytic converter on cars, buses and trucks, making up around 50% of its annual use. This is because the metal is incredibly effective at converting the emissions from the engine into less harmful waste.

However, Platinum also has a range of other uses, such as acting as a catalyst in the production of nitric acid, benzene and silicone, while it can also help to improve the efficiency of fuel cells.

3) Rhodium

Another popular metal for use in a catalytic converter (accounting for around 80% of its annual use) is Rhodium. The unique metal helps to lower the levels of nitrogen oxide in the exhaust gas, ensuring the vehicle is running cleaner.

Just like Platinum, though, Rhodium also has a range of additional uses. Alongside being a catalyst in the production of acetic and nitric acids, it is also used to coat optic fibres, optical mirrors, headlight reflectors, thermocouple elements and crucibles.

Thanks to its very low electrical resistance and very high corrosion resistance, Rhodium is also very popular for use in various electrical contact materials.

4) Palladium

Palladium is also a very popular metal for use in various catalytic converters, but it can also be found in multiple pieces of jewellery, as well as dental fillings and crowns. When mixed with gold, Palladium creates the popular white gold, which is used in a range of jewellery items.

Palladium is also extensively used in the world of electronics, forming part of the ceramic capacitors that are found in laptops and smartphones. These capacitors are essentially multiple layers of Palladium that have been placed between two pieces of ceramic.

When finely divided, Palladium can also be used as a catalyst in hydrogenation and dehydrogenation reactions. This is because hydrogen can easily diffuse through the heated metal, quickly separating and purifying it.

5) Iridium

Iridium is a highly popular metal thanks to its incredible ability to resist corrosion. It is most commonly used in a range of alloys, particularly with Osmium which is frequently used in compass bearings and pen tips.

It was also used when making the standard metre bar and also in spark plugs, thanks to its high melting point and low reactivity.

Final thoughts

Want to find out more about our precious and valuable metal recovery services? We have been working with clients across the globe for over 35 years, so get in touch with our team today!

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