What is ruthenium

Precious metal ruthenium. Gold purchase Rosendorfer, Munich

Precious metal: ruthenium
Chemical symbolRu
Atomic number44
density12.41 grams / cubic centimeter
Melting point2,334 ° C
boiling point4,150 ° C


Platinum metal: ruthenium

Ruthenium was discovered in 1844 by the German-Russian chemist Karl Ernst Claus (1796-1864) and named after the Latin name of the Ukraine and Russia, Ruthenia. He succeeded in isolating the rare metal from residues from platinum mining. After separating the metal in the form of ruthenium chloride, he was able to produce six grams of pure ruthenium through thermal decomposition. Since the platinum metals are very inert and similar in their chemical properties, it is very difficult to separate them from one another.


Physical properties of ruthenium

Ruthenium is a silver-white, shiny, brittle and very hard noble metal from the eighth subgroup of the periodic table of the elements. Like platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium and iridium, it belongs to the group of platinum metals. It is the lightest and rarest of all platinum metals. Ruthenium has a very high melting and boiling point.


Chemical properties

Ruthenium is very inert, but it is dissolved by chlorine and aqua regia. In the presence of oxygen, however, the metal reacts with hydrochloric acid. At high temperatures, ruthenium combines with oxygen and forms ruthenium oxide. Most of the many complex compounds of ruthenium are of no economic importance, with the exception of ruthenium dioxide and ruthenium tetroxide.


Occurrence of ruthenium

Ruthenium is one of the very rare elements. In the ranking of the abundance of elements in the earth's crust, it takes position 71, so it is slightly more common than gold and platinum. In nature it often occurs together with platinum and other platinum metals, and it can also be found in the rare mineral laurite, a ruthenium-sulfur compound. In the world's largest platinum deposit, the Bushveld Complex in the Transvaal province of South Africa, the ruthenium content is between eight and twelve percent. Like other platinum metals, ruthenium is also extracted from the anode sludge that is produced during nickel production. The largest deposits of ruthenium are found in Russia, the Republic of South Africa, the USA and Borneo.


Use of the platinum metal

Ruthenium is used to give alloys with platinum and other platinum metals a greater degree of hardness. It can also be used as a catalyst. Ruthenium is used to increase the corrosion resistance of titanium alloys; Adding just 0.1 percent of the alloy improves the corrosion resistance of titanium by a factor of one hundred. In the chemical industry, ruthenium dioxide is used as a catalyst for oxidation and reduction reactions. Ruthenium is also used in the production of film resistors and temperature measuring devices.


Trade in the precious metal

While classic investment metals such as gold and silver in the form of bars, coins and jewelry are easy to buy and sell at any time, this is not the case with the platinum metal ruthenium. The market for ruthenium is very tight and hardly accessible to normal investors. The price of ruthenium was still below $ 100 a troy ounce in 2005, but rose rapidly to more than $ 800 in the following year. After its peak in 2007, the ruthenium price fell continuously, apart from minor upward movements, reaching a value of 180 US dollars by the end of 2010. While the gold and silver prices have increased steadily over the past two years due to increasing demand, the demand for ruthenium has declined again. Coins and jewelry are made from the investment metals gold and silver, but this is not the case with ruthenium. The Canadian maple leaf gold coin is also minted in silver, platinum and palladium, but a maple leaf coin made of ruthenium is not minted. Ruthenium jewelry is also not made.