Platinum (Atomic number 78) derived from the Spainsh word for silver, platina.
In modern record, two men are credited with the discovery of Platinum. The first was Charles Wood. Wood was a British national and, as a metallurgist, he was naturally intrigued by the samples of Columbian Platinum which he found on the islands of Jamaica during the year 1741.
The other individual who has been credited with the discovery of Platinum is the Spaniard, Antonio de Ulloa. As a general, explorer, author and astronomer, Ulloa was a highly regarded individual. His scientific achievements earned him an appointment to the French Geodesic Mission, an ambitious project to measure a degree of meridian at the equator. This mission brought Ulloa to Ecuador in the year 1736, where he first encountered Platinum at some point during his eight year stay in the country.
To demonstrate that Platinum has yet to tell all of its secrets, in 2007, almost three centuries after Platinum’s original discovery, German scientist, Gerhard Ertl was awarded the Nobel prize for his research into the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide over platinum, a discovery which led to the creation of the catalytic converter, a pollution reducing device that is standard on nearly all gasoline and diesel powered vehicles in the world. 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).
All of the Platinum ever mined would barely fill a 25 cubic foot (7.6 cubic meter) box. The block would weigh over 16 tons.
90% of the worlds annual supply of Platinum is extracted from four mines. Three of these mines are located on the continent of Africa.
50% percent of the Platinum produced annually in all mines is used for industrial applications.
Platinum is hypo-allergenic. This is the reason why Platinum has so many medical and dental applications and a large factor in it’s popularity as jewellery.
Due to Platinum’s resistance to high temperatures, it commonly finds application in defense systems such as missile nose cones and military aircraft applications, where durability under extreme temperatures is essential.