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Palladium and Rhodium

Palladium and Rhodium


(p.109) Chapter 5 Palladium and Rhodium
Pure Intelligence
Melvyn C. Usselman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes W. H. Wollaston’s batch processes for the production of malleable platinum and his efforts to make the process as economically efficient as possible. Recovery of dissolved platinum by treatment of residual aqua regia with iron generated metallic residues from which he isolated palladium in 1802 and rhodium in 1804. Wollaston’s desire to keep all details of his platinum business secret prompted him to announce the discovery of palladium by the anonymous sale of small ribbons of the metal. The controversy prompted by the claims of fraud issued by Richard Chenevix over the nature of palladium is described, and the damage to Wollaston’s reputation by those who believed chemical discoveries should be freely disseminated is examined. The limited markets for palladium in astronomical instruments and rhodium in pen tips is discussed

Keywords:   William Hyde Wollaston, platinum processing, palladium, rhodium, business secrecy, chemical discovery, Richard Chenevix, scientific fraud, rhodium pen tips

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