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Rhodium is a rarer and harder metal than silver and gold, making it an ideal finishing coating to give jewelry a more brilliant sparkle. It also helps prevent tarnish and provides excellent corrosion resistance. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group metals, which includes platinum, palladium, iridium, ruthenium, and osmium. Like the other platinum group metals, rhodium is non-toxic and has high melting points. The metal is also a fantastic catalyst and is resistant to oxidation and wear.
Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich have recently developed a new process that utilizes cerium oxide and small amounts of rhodium to transform solar energy into chemical fuels. The researchers claim that the discovery is a major step towards storing renewable solar energy.
In the automotive industry, rhodium is used in thermocouples and as a catalyser. It is very difficult to find a substitute for rhodium because it offers many benefits, such as its high melting point, low corrosion rate and general non-toxicity.
The platinum-rhodium thermocouple is a device that converts a change in temperature to an electric signal, generating a measured voltage. These thermocouples are typically used in powder metallurgy, vacuum furnaces, steel and other metal furnaces, and industrial salt baths. They are frequently coupled with temperature transmitters, regulators and display instruments to form a complete temperature control system for production processes.
American Elements manufactures platinum-rhodium alloys in various compositions including 10% and 20% rhodium in addition to custom compositions. Alloys are available in bar, ingot, ribbon, wire, shot, sheet and foil forms as well as ultra-high purity and technical grades.