What is palladium used for and why is it so expensive?
When faced with the question of what is the most expensive metal, most of us will most likely automatically think of gold. But in reality, that’s not the case, and there are several precious metals that cost significantly more. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at one of them: palladium. What is palladium, what is it used for, and what is behind its high price? Read on to find the answers to these questions.
What is palladium metal?
Palladium is a rare, silvery-white metal belonging to the platinum group of precious metals (along with ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, iridium, and platinum). It’s widely used in the automotive and electronics industries, but its uses extend to other branches of industry, such as medical equipment and jewellery.
Palladium ores are rare. To put this into perspective: palladium mined worldwide in 2020 amounted to just around 210,000 kilograms, which is significantly less when compared to the 3,241 tonnes of gold mined during the same year. The biggest producers of palladium include Russia, Canada and South Africa.
6 most common uses of palladium
- Catalytic converters: The list of palladium uses cannot be complete without talking about its importance to the automotive industry – it’s estimated that over half of the global supply of palladium is used in the production of catalytic converters used in the exhaust systems of diesel and petrol engines.
- Electronics and technology: Palladium is an important material in the production of integrated circuits, electrodes and multi-layer ceramic capacitors used in phones and computers, among other applications. It can also be found in solar panels.
- Dentistry: Small amounts of palladium can be used in dental amalgam. However, due to health and environmental concerns, the use of amalgam is becoming rarer.
- Fine art photography: When used in the printing process of photographs, palladium provides an aesthetically interesting effect.
- Jewellery: Palladium is an increasingly popular precious metal used in jewellery, both on its own and in white gold alloys.
- Hydrogen storage and purification: Palladium’s properties allow it to absorb hydrogen, making it very useful for hydrogen storage and purification.
What makes palladium so expensive?
The steady growth of the electronics and automotive industries means that there is an ever-increasing demand for palladium. It’s especially sought after by car manufacturers, as palladium is an essential component of emission control solutions in modern engine exhaust systems. This, along with the fact that the supply is limited and unable to meet the demand, is causing the market price of palladium to reach record highs.
There’s no denying that metals are both valuable and extremely useful. Unfortunately, their resources are limited, which means that the rarer the metal, the higher its price. Luckily, we now have alternatives to ore mining as a way to access metals! Recycling metals leads to increased supply and lower prices. However, in order for the entire recycling process to yield measurable results, it is necessary to have access to materials that can be recycled.
This is where scrap yards and companies that deal with collecting and recycling scrap metal come in! At Trans Metal, you can find professional help in arranging commercial, construction sites and domestic collections of scrap metal in Slough and other parts of London. Contact us and let us know how we can help!