What is ruthenium used for

Ruthenium, often overlooked in the precious metals sector, plays an important role in a variety of industries and applications. This lesser-known member of the platinum group metals (PGMs) has unique properties that make it indispensable in modern technologies from electronics to catalysis. Let's see what ruthenium is used for and why it is of such importance in today's world.

What is ruthenium used for

What is Ruthenium?

Ruthenium is a transition metal with atomic number 44 and its symbol Ru in the periodic table. It was discovered in 1844 by Russian chemist Carl Ernst Claus when he was studying platinum residues. This metal is rare, occurring naturally in very low concentrations in the Earth's crust. It is mainly found with platinum, nickel and copper ores.

Applications of Ruthenium:

1. Catalysis:

Ruthenium and its compounds are widely employed as catalysts in various chemical reactions due to their exceptional catalytic properties. They are particularly valuable in hydrogenation reactions, where they facilitate the addition of hydrogen atoms to unsaturated organic compounds. Ruthenium catalysts are also used in the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and fine chemicals.

2. Electronics:

In the electronics industry, ruthenium is used in thin-film resistors and electrical contacts. Its excellent conductivity, corrosion resistance and ability to withstand high temperatures make it an ideal material for these applications. Ruthenium-based alloys are also used in the production of magnetic storage devices such as hard disk drives (HDDs).

3. Energy Applications:

Ruthenium plays an important role in energy-related applications, especially in the field of renewable energy. It is used as a catalyst in the production of hydrogen through water electrolysis, a promising way to generate clean and sustainable fuel. Additionally, ruthenium compounds are being investigated for use in dye-sensitized solar cells and as catalysts in fuel cells.

4. Medical Industry:

In medicine, ruthenium compounds have shown promising anticancer properties. Several ruthenium-based drugs are being developed to treat various types of cancer. These compounds exhibit selective toxicity toward cancer cells while sparing healthy cells, making them potentially valuable for cancer therapy.

5. Corrosion Resistance:

Because of its corrosion resistance and ability to withstand harsh environments, ruthenium is used in the production of coatings for aerospace components, chemical processing equipment, and jewelry. These coatings help protect the underlying materials from corrosion, extending their lifespan and enhancing performance.

6. Space Exploration:

Ruthenium is used in some aerospace applications, including rocket engine nozzles and satellite components. Its high melting point and resistance to oxidation make it suitable for use in the extreme conditions encountered in space.

While ruthenium may not be as well-known as its counterparts in the platinum group metals, its unique properties and versatile applications make it an indispensable material in a variety of industries. From catalysis and electronics to energy and medicine, ruthenium is playing a vital role in driving innovation and technological progress. As research continues into its properties and applications, the importance of this remarkable metal is likely to increase, shaping the future of many sectors and industries.