The platinum group elements, or PGEs as they are sometimes referred to, are a collective of metals grouped together in the middle of the periodic table. The six elements normally included in the group are all transition metals with some similar chemical and physical properties. Generally, this group is assumed to include platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium and osmium (see Figure 1); all have become valuable and extremely useful to industry (and civilization in general) because of their elemental properties, rarity and beauty.
A wide range of PGE alloy compositions are used in electronic applications such as low voltage and low-energy contacts, thermocouples, furnace components and electrodes. The chemical and petrochemical industries use the PGEs’ extraordinary catalytic properties in a wide range of processes including refining crude oil to produce many synthetic organic chemicals.1