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It's Elemental

The Element Platinum

[Click for Isotope Data]


78 Pt Platinum 195.084

Atomic Number: 78

Atomic Weight: 195.084

Melting Point: 2041.55 K (1768.4°C or 3215.1°F)

Boiling Point: 4098 K (3825°C or 6917°F)

Density: 21.46 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 6

Group Number: 10

Group Name: none

What's in a name? From the Spainsh word for silver, platina.

Say what? Platinum is pronounced as PLAT-en-em.

History and Uses:

Used by the pre-Columbian Indians of South America, platinum wasn't noticed by western scientists until 1735. Platinum can occur free in nature and is sometimes found in deposits of gold-bearing sands, primarily those found in the Ural mountains, Columbia and the western United States. Platinum, in the form of the mineral sperrylite (PtAs2), is also obtained as a byproduct of the nickel mining operation in the Sudbury region of Ontario, Canada. Credit for the modern rediscovery of platinum is usually given to Antonio de Ulloa.

Platinum is a soft, dense, ductile metal that is very resistant to corrosion. It is used to make jewelry, wire, electrical contacts and laboratory vessels. Platinum expands at nearly the same rate as soda-lime-silica glass, so it is used to make sealed electrodes in glass systems. Platinum is used to coat missile nose cones, jet engine fuel nozzles and other devices that must operate reliably for long periods of time at high temperatures. Platinum resistance wires are used in high temperature electric furnaces. Platinum anodes are used in cathodic protection systems to prevent ships, pipelines and steel piers from corroding in salt water.

Platinum is widely used as a catalyst. It will convert methyl alcohol vapors (CH4O) into formaldehyde (CH2O) on contact, glowing red hot in the process. This effect is used to make small hand warmers. Platinum is also used in a device called a catalytic converter, a device found in the exhaust systems of most cars. Catalytic converters combine carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned fuel from a car's exhaust with oxygen from the air, forming carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O). Platinum is also used as a catalyst in the production of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and in the cracking of petroleum products. Fuel cells, devices that combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and water, also use platinum as a catalyst.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 5×10-3 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: Not Applicable

Number of Stable Isotopes: 5 (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 9 eV

Oxidation States: +4, +2

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d10

4s2   4p6   4d10   4f14

5s2   5p6   5d9


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For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.