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Chemical Fact Sheet

Rhodium

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 7440-16-6
Analytical Methods 200.7 - 200.8 - 6010 - 6020
Atomic Symbol Rh

Synopsis from the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 92nd Edition 2011-2013

Rhodium (Gr. rhodon, rose), Rh; at. wt. 102.90550(2); at. no. 45; m.p. 1964 C; b.p. 3695 C; sp. gr. 12.41 (20 C); valence 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Wollaston discovered rhodium in 1803-4 in crude platinum ore he presumably obtained from South America. Rhodium occurs native with other platinum metals in river sands of the Urals and in North and South America. It is also found with other platinum metals in the copper-nickel sulfide ores of the Sudbury, Ontario region. Although the quantity occurring here is very small, the large tonnages of nickel processed make the recovery commercially feasible. The annual world production of rhodium in 1999 was only about 9000 kg. The metal is silvery white and at red heat slowly changes in air to the sesquioxide. At higher temperatures it converts back to the element. Rhodium has a higher melting point and lower density than platinum. Its major use is as an alloying agent to harden platinum and palladium. Such alloys are used for furnace windings, thermocouple elements, bushings for glass fiber production, electrodes for aircraft spark plugs, and laboratory crucibles. It is useful as an electrical contact material as it has a low electrical resistance, a low and stable contact resistance, and is highly resistant to corrosion. Plated rhodium, produced by electroplating or evaporation, is exceptionally hard and is used for optical instruments. It has a high reflectance and is hard and durable. Rhodium is also used for jewelry, for decoration, and as a catalyst. Fifty-two isotopes and isomers are now known. Rhodium metal (powder) costs about $180/g (99.9%).


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