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The Top 4 Industries Losing Money on Platinum

Platinum’s versatility makes it a popular material in the automotive, jewelry, electronics, and medical applications, the top 4 industries losing money on platinum today.

Each of these industries has their own peculiar opportunities for waste of the precious metal in their respective industrial processes. Let’s have a look at the applications, their associated wasteful pitfalls, and the best way to mitigate the loss in each case:


1. Autocatalysts

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Gas powered vehicles still have decades to go before they’re projected to start losing ground to increasingly popular electric motors. In the meantime, the platinum will remain in high demand in the manufacture of autocatalysts. Governments worldwide, including in the United States, the European Union, and Japan, are passing increasingly strict emissions restrictions on internal combustion engines.

Platinum, along with palladium and rhodium, are all used to manufacture of autocatalysts, cylinders installed in exhaust systems to react with hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen into less harmful carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.

2. Fine jewelry

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Platinum’s strength, purity durability, and rarity have made it a popular material in jewelry since the 1780s when it was fashionable among the courtiers of Louis XVI of France.

Waste platinum is a perennial concern for jewelers, who carve and etch the metal to make appealing rings, necklaces, earrings, and other adornments.

3. Medical instrument manufacturing

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Platinum is used in minute amounts in medical devices such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, catheters, stents, and neuromodulator devices. The material is also used in cancer-fighting drugs such as cisplatin and carboplatin.

4. Electronics manufacturing

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Many electronics, from televisions to appliances to computers, phones and cameras carry small amounts of platinum. The metal is also used in medical sensors, including instruments measuring blood gases such as oxygen.

Opportunities for recovering platinum from manufacturing waste

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Whether platinum is being used in the construction of autocatalysts, jewelry, medical instruments or electronics, the processes produce waste amounts of platinum in three categories: sweeps, filings and grindings, and in solutions produced in the respective manufacturing processes.

Sweeps: These materials include worn out polishing materials, lint from dust collectors, swept up dust from factories and workshop carpeting, sludge from settling tanks and old crucibles, representing the biggest opportunity for platinum recovery. The process begins with burning/incinerating the sweeps material to remove all combustible material from the metal. Next, the remaining material is crushed and sifted, then assayed before being melted into a bar.

Metal filings and shavings: Filings are produced by milling and grinding metal operations. Shavings are produced from the shaving or cutting of metal. Processing these byproducts from also begins with incineration of the material, which is then mixed with a flux and melted in a crucible.

Solutions: Liquid waste from electroplating operations in various electronics and jewelry applications will contain trace amounts of platinum. Processing these materials involves treatment with a separate chemically reactive solution in which the precious metal precipitates and settles to the bottom of the container. The precipitate is then washed and dried.  

Manufacturing with platinum in any industry will inevitably result in waste products containing small amounts of the metal, and QML Inc. is committed to ensuring you recover as much of the material and value you can from your operation.


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