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Rhodium is one of the of six elements in the platinum group, which consists of platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and ruthenium. Often found with deposits of platinum and commonly obtained from the mining and refining of platinum, it is considered to be the rarest and most valuable precious metal, more valuable than gold or silver. Rhodium is a silver-white metallic element with high melting and boiling points. It is highly reflective and resistant to corrosion and oxidation, which is why it is also classified as a noble metal. It was discovered in 1803 by English chemist William Hyde Wollaston shortly after his discovery of palladium. Wollaston extracted rhodium from a piece of platinum ore that he had obtained from South America. Rhodium was named for the rose-red color of its salts, after the Greek word "rhodon" which means rose. Rarely used by itself, rhodium metal is almost always used as an alloy.

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Explore our Premion® line of precious metal compounds and pure elements. The minimum purity of our Premion line of products is 99.99% (metals basis). Premion pure elements include: Platinum (Pt), Palladium (Pd), Rhodium (Rh), Iridium (Ir), Ruthenium (Ru), Osmium, Silver (Ag), and Gold (Au).


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The Alfa Aesar™ portfolio of rhodium products can be used in a wide range of applications, from chemistry research to manufacturing and industry, from emission control and electrical applications to jewelry.


Rhodium in chemistry 
Rhodium is used in research and industrial laboratories primarily as a catalyst. It is preferable to the other platinum group catalysts in the reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen. Rhodium is also used to catalyze the reduction of benzene to cyclohexane as well as the addition of hydrosilanes to double bonds, an important step in the manufacture of certain silicone rubbers. In industry, it is used in the catalytic carbonylation of methanol to produce acetic acid by the Monsanto process. The coordination complex of rhodium(I) with tris(triphenylphosphine)chloride, known as Wilkinon's catalyst, is widely used in the hydrogenation of alkenes. The rhodium complex with BINAP(2,2′-bis(diphenylphosphino)-1,1′-binaphthyl) is used for chiral synthesis, as in the synthesis of methanol. Rhodium's ability to withstand high temperatures makes it a perfect material for laboratory crucibles.

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Rhodium in industry
Rhodium is used in the glass industry, mostly for production of fiberglass and flat-panel glass, and in the chemical industry in processes for the production of the herbicide roundup as well as acids such as nitric acid and acetic acid.In automobile manufacturing, rhodium is used in the construction of headlight reflectors. Because of its rarity and its inertness against corrosion and most aggressive chemicals, rhodium is usually alloyed with platinum or palladium for use in high-temperature and corrosion-resistive coatings. Rhodium is sometimes used to cure silicones. Rhodium plated by either electroplating or evaporation is used in the manufacture of optical instruments as well as filters for mammography systems because of the characteristic X-rays it produces. Rhodium neutron detectors are used in nuclear reactors to measure neutron flux levels, providing an accurate 3D "picture" of reactivity and allowing fine tuning to determine the most economical consumption of nuclear fuel.

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Rhodium in emission control devices
Approximately 87.2% of world rhodium production is used in catalytic converters, often together with palladium and/or platinum, to clean vehicle emissions. It has by far the highest activity for the removal of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from exhaust fumes, as well as very high activity for the oxidation of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide and very good resistance to the poisons present in the exhaust stream. Its primary drawback, however, is its high cost.

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Rhodium in electrical applications
Rhodium is often alloyed with platinum and iridium to make an oxidation-resistant metal that can withstand high temperatures. These alloys are used in furnace coils, thermocouple and resistance wires, and electrodes for aircraft spark plugs. • It is also used in electrical contacts, where it is valued for its low electrical resistance, low and stable contact resistance, and great corrosion resistance.

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Rhodium in jewelry and decoration
Its brilliance and resistance to wear and tarnishing make rhodium a perfect material for jewelry. It is electroplated on white gold and platinum jewelry with a surface that guards against scratches and gives a reflective white appearance, preventing tarnishing during wear. It is also used in coating sterling silver to protect against tarnish from the silver sulfide produced from atmospheric hydrogen sulfide. Rhodium has also been used to signify elite status, when more commonly used metals such as silver, gold or platinum were deemed insufficient, as when in 1979 the Guinness Book of World Records gave Paul McCartney a rhodium-plated disc for being history's all-time best-selling songwriter and recording artist.

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Find rhodium in our interactive periodic table

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Periodic table magnet

2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT)! In celebration of 150 years of the periodic table of the elements, we are offering, for a limited time, a periodic table magnet for a quick reference on your lab refrigerator/freezer and a 2019 wall planner as well as .

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