A Beginner’s Guide to the uses of Rhodium.
When Rhodium was first discovered in 1803 by scientist William Hyde Wollaston, it was named because of its reddish hue and based on the Greek word “rhodon,” or “rose.” Its atomic number is 45, and its symbol is Rh.
Rhodium’s primary use is in the automotive industry.
Today, Rhodium’s primary use lies in the automotive industry in catalytic converters. This process changes harmful chemicals created as a result of burning fossil fuels into less dangerous gases. To put in perspective what “primary use” looks like, in 2012, 81% of the 30,000kg of Rhodium consumed went towards the auto industry (Loferksi, Patricia J. 2013).
Rhodium is used as a coating on precious metal jewellery.
To a lesser extent, Rhodium is produced in pure ingot/bar form and for general use in jewellery making. It is often electroplated on white gold and platinum to leave a highly reflective finish. Its use as a coating on sterling silver will help protect the underlying silver from tarnish.
Due to its extremely high melting point and poor malleability, Rhodium is not generally made into jewellery itself, and this is before the cost is even considered (Fischer, Torkel; Fregert, S.; Gruvberger, B.; Rystedt, I. 1984)
Rhodium is used in industrial contexts.
Rhodium may also be used as electrical contacts (Weisberg, Alfred M. 1999), in optical instruments (Smith, Warren J. 2007), filters in mammography (McDonagh, C P; et al. 1984), and to measure neutron flux levels at nuclear reactors (Sokolov, A. P.; Pochivalin, G. P.; Shipovskikh, Yu. M.; Garusov, Yu. V.; Chernikov, O. G.; Shevchenko, V. G. 1993).