Palladium is one of the platinum group metals (PGM), which also include rhodium, iridium, osmium, and ruthenium. Like platinum, these metals are resistant to erosion and, to some extent, can replace platinum and each other in industrial applications.
Palladium is a white, malleable metal that at room temperatures can absorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen, which uniquely qualifies palladium as a medium for purifying the gas. Palladium and platinum are generally mined together, but palladium is less rare than platinum because it is also a by-product of nickel mining.
Palladium is primarily used in automotive catalyst production, which accounts for 63 percent of total demand. To a lesser extent, palladium is also used in electronic equipment, dental alloys, and jewelry.
Rhodium is also mainly used in pollution control devices for the automotive industry. Likewise, iridium is used in some automotive catalysts as well as in the production of polyvinyl chloride. These two metals are covered next in Chapter 11.
Demand for palladium rose by about 410,000 ounces to 6.89 million ounces in 2005. Most of the growth was due to a surge in purchases of the metal for the manufacture of jewelry.
Purchases of palladium for the manufacture of jewelry soared to 1.43 million ounces, an increase of more than 500,000 ounces compared with 2004. Almost all of the growth stemmed from increased production of palladium jewelry in China. Purchases of palladium ...