List of Platinum Group Metals or PGMs

What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

Elements belonging to the platinum group metals all share characteristics with platinum (shown here).
Elements of the platinum group metals all share characteristics with platinum (shown here). Harry Taylor, Getty Images

The platinum group metals or PGMs are a set of six transition metals that share similar properties. They may be considered a subset of the precious metals. The platinum group metals are clustered together on the periodic table, plus these metals tend to be found together in minerals. The list of PGMs is:

Alternate Names: The platinum group metals are also known as: PGMs, platinum group, platinum metals, platinoids, platinum group elements or PGEs, platinides, platidises, platinum family

Properties of the Platinum Group Metals

The six PGMs share similar properties, including:

  • extremely high density (densest element is a PGM)
  • highly resistant to wear or tarnish
  • resist corrosion or chemical attack
  • catalytic properties
  • stable electrical properties

Uses of PGMs

  • Several of the platinum group metals are used in jewelry. In particular, platinum, rhodium, and iridium are popular.
  • PGMs are important catalysts. Platinum catalysts are important in the petrochemical industry. Platinum or platinum-rhodium alloy are used to catalyze partial oxidation of ammonia to produce nitric oxide, an important raw material in chemical production. PGMS are also used as catalysts for organic chemical reactions. The automotive industry uses platinum, palladium, and rhodium in catalytic converters to treat exhaust emissions.
  • Platinum group metals are used as alloying additives.
  • PGMs may be used to make crucibles used to grow single crystals, particularly of oxides.
  • Platinum group metal alloys are used to make electrical contacts, electrodes, thermocouples, and circuits.
  • Iridium and platinum are used in medical implants and pacemakers.

Sources of Platinum Group Metals

Platinum gets its name from platina, meaning "little silver", because the Spaniards considered it an unwanted impurity in silver mining operations in Colombia. For the most part, PGMs are found together in ores. Platinum metals are found in the Ural Mountains, North and South America, Ontario, and other places. Platinum metals are also produced as a by-product of nickel mining and processing. Additionally, the light platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium) form as fission products in nuclear reactors.