The chemical element palladium is represented by the symbol Pd. The element was discovered in 1803. W.H. Wollaston is credited with its discovery. Palladium has a silvery-white color. It is one of the platinum group metals but has the lowest density and melting point of all metals in this group. At standard temperatures, palladium does not react with atmospheric oxygen and hence is quite stable. It is highly soluble in aqua regia at room temperature and in some acids at specific conditions.
Occurrence Of Palladium In Nature
Ore deposits of palladium are not very common. Palladium is often recycled with one of the primary sources of recycled palladium coming from scrapped catalytic converters. Due to the limited availability of palladium in nature and its high demand, the element is often viewed with investment interest. The rare minerals of polarite and cooperite also contain palladium. Palladium can also be recovered from spent nuclear fuel or other radioactive waste since the nuclear fission reaction produces this element. However, extraction of palladium produced by this method is not feasible.
Top Palladium Producing Countries
Russia, South Africa, Canada, United States, and Zimbabwe are the top five palladium producing nations in the world. Russia is the number one palladium producing country with a production of 81 metric tons in 2017. The Norilsk Nickel, a Russian company is the biggest producer of palladium in the world. It accounts for 39% of the global production of this chemical.
South Africa, Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe produced 78, 19, 13, and 12 metric tons of palladium in 2017, respectively. In nature, some of the biggest deposits of palladium were discovered in South Africa. Here, extensive deposits have been found at the Bushveld Igneous Complex. Canada’s Thunder Bay District and Sudbury Basin are noted for palladium production. Montana in the US has significant palladium deposits in the Stillwater Complex. Other palladium producing countries together produced only 8.4 metric tons of the chemical.
Applications Of Palladium
Palladium has a wide variety of applications. It is used in the electronics industry. It also has applications in dentistry and medicine. Palladium is used for groundwater treatment, purification of hydrogen, in the making of jewelry, as one of the main components of fuel cells, etc. The element is heavily used in the making of catalytic converters.
Toxicity Associated With Palladium
The metal has low toxicity. Following ingestion, palladium is poorly absorbed by the human body. Although no clear evidence exists, high doses of the metal could be carcinogenic in nature. Initial studies with rodents are suggestive of this fact.