Rhodium: historical information

  • Discoveror: William Hyde Wollaston
  • Place of discovery: England
  • Date of discovery: 1803
  • Origin of name : from the Greek word "rhodon" meaning "rose".

William Hyde Wollaston discovered rhodium in 1803-4 in crude platinum ore from South America rather soon after his discovery of another element, palladium. He dissolved the ore in aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids), neutralised the acid with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), and precipitated the platinum by treatment with ammonium chloride, NH4Cl, as ammonium chloroplatinate. Palladium was then removed as palladium cyanide by treatment with mercuric cyanide. The remaining material was a red material containing rhodium chloride salts from which rhodium metal was obtained by reduction with hydrogen gas.

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