It has been a few months since we wrote about palladium on this blog. And it is time to write about it again. Why? Because palladium trading prices are rising steadily. That’s another way of saying that if you acquired some palladium scrap or bullion a few years ago and simply held onto it, you would be making a nice profit on it today.Read More
It’s been a while since we wrote about palladium on our blog. Since we last wrote about this precious metal two years ago, its trading price has risen from about $700 to $800 on the London fix. That’s reason enough to revisit the topic of palladium. And because it is still very feasible to realize a good return from acquiring and recycling this often-overlooked precious metal, we are providing an overview of the basics in today’s blog post.Read More
Today’s post is going to sound a little bit like a chemistry lesson, because chemicals are used to recycle platinum and palladium from liquids where they reside.
Most of the time here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we use heat to extract precious metals. This is one time when that’s not the case.
How Do Palladium and Platinum Get into Liquids?
- As a byproduct of mining operations – Acidic baths are often used to leach copper, nickel, uranium and other metals from ores. In many cases, the acidic liquid that is left after processing contains trace elements of other precious metals too, including platinum, palladium or even gold.
- From plating baths – If your operations include tank-plating palladium or platinum onto other metals, your used solutions can still contain valuable quantities of those metals. In some cases, as much as 10 ounces of metal has been recovered from one cubic foot of used plating solutions. That’s a lot of valuable precious metal.
- From solutions left over from platinum recycling processes – If you employ wet chemical methods to extract palladium, platinum and rhodium from recycled catalytic converters, your used acids and washing liquids could contain recyclable quantities of precious metals.
How Are Precious Metals Extracted from Liquid Media?
It all comes down to chemistry. First, we analyze your liquids to determine the quantities of precious metals that they contain. Next, we introduce the right chemicals into your liquids in the right way – under safe, monitored laboratory conditions, of course. The results can be amazing, as ounces of palladium and platinum precipitate out of liquids that looked like little more than opaque sludge.
Incidentally, Dow Chemical and other companies manufacture a number of high-quality chemicals that are used in these operations. All processing is done in the most advanced, environmentally respectful conditions that comply with all laws.
Today’s Practical Tip . . .
Don’t let those metals go unextracted, because they are worth a great deal of money. Call us at 800-426-2344; tell us what liquids you have. We’ll help you set up a plan to analyze your liquids, extract precious metals from them – and put dollars in your pocket.
Does your company electroplate thin layers of one metal onto another? Or have you recently acquired quantities of used e-plating equipment or scrap from another company? In either case, you could have something of value on your hands.
Here are the answers to some questions about how electroplating works and where dollars could be hiding.
Why Is Electroplating Done?
Electroplating can be used to beautify metals or protect them from corrosion. Remember the “chrome cruiser cars” of the 1950s, with acres of chrome-plated trim? Similarly, jewelry and tableware can be coated with silver or gold to make them more beautiful. Electroplating is also used to make metals less likely to oxidize – that’s why “tin cans” are actually steel cans that have been electroplated with tin so that the steel will not react chemically with the can’s contents. In addition, durable metals like platinum and palladium are sometimes plated onto softer metals to make them harder or abrasion-resistant.
How Is Electroplating Done?
Let’s look at the most basic way of coating one metal onto another – in an electroplating tank. First, that tank is filled with liquid, called the electrolytic bath, which contains a solution that contains the metal like platinum that will be used as a coating. The object to be plated is immersed in the bath, and connected to the negative terminal of a source of electricity that will flow through the bath. (In other words, the object to be plated becomes the cathode.) Next another piece of metal – one that will not be plated – is connected to the positive terminal and immersed in the liquid. (It becomes the anode.)
When electricity flows through the bath, electrodes of the metal that will become the plating (i.e., silver) adhere to the object that is being plated.
That basic process can vary, depending on the nature of the metal that will form the plating, the object to be plated and other variables. Sometimes, for example, the anode can be made of the metal that will be used as a coating; electrodes from it will flow to the object to be coated. But even though there are variations, that’s basically how tank e-plating works.
Why Can Used E-plating Materials and Supplies Be Worth Money?
There are several reasons. Let’s take a closer look.
- Tanks, filters, mesh screens, piping and other equipment can have become coated with quantities of the gold, palladium or the other precious metals that have been used as platings.
- If a tank has been used to apply alloys of precious metals, the “used” cathodes can still contain quantities of precious metals that can be quite valuable.
- The used electrolytic fluid, and any “sludge” that accumulated on the bottom of tanks or elsewhere, can contain quantities of the precious metal that was used as a plating.
Want to Know What Your Used E-Plating Materials are Worth?
Several factors can determine how much value you have in used electroplating supplies – the kind of metal that was used as plating, for example. If you have quantities of these potentially valuable recyclables on hand, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. Tell us what you have and we’ll be pleased to help you claim the hidden dollars that could be hiding in it.
Why Recycling Plating Tank Scrap Can Pay You More than You Expect
Finding Value in Cutlery from the Golden Age of Silver Electroplating
The Puzzling, Profitable Process of Refining Silver-Plated Scrap Items
How to Get Top Dollar for Silverware and Gold Jewelry
If you work directly in manufacturing processes that include electroplating, you already know how tank electroplating works. If you’re an executive at a company where electroplating is done, you might not know the details. Here’s a review of the basics, because what you don’t know could be costing your company money that the best precious metals recycling companies can add back into your bottom line.
How Does Tank Electroplating Work?
Two metallic parts are immersed in a fluid called an electrolyte, which contains dissolved metal salts and other chemicals that allow charged atoms to pass through it. One of the immersed metal parts is the anode, which is made of the gold, silver, or other metal that you want to apply to the surface to be plated. The other immersed metal part, the cathode, is the part that you want to be plated.
Once everything is set up, an electrical current is run through the tank. That causes atoms in the anode to dissolve in the electrolyte solution and find their way to the cathode, where they adhere.
That’s the basic info. It’s a simple process that has been used to apply metal platings to everything from jewelry to belt buckles for years.
What Kinds of Metals Can Be Electroplated?
Commonly plated metals include gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, palladium, osmium, and iridium. Alloys can be applied via electroplating too. They include alloys containing gold, cadmium, cobalt, copper, and silver.
Why Do Plating Tanks Get Contaminated?
In an ideal world, the gold or other metal that you want to apply would jump right off your anode, swim straight to what you are plating (your cathode), and stick only there. But in the real world of plating processes, it doesn’t happen quite that neatly. The rare metal that you are applying doesn’t only adhere to the piece you are trying to plate. It’s kind of ornery, and tends to adhere to the side of the tank, to drain pipes, to filtering screens, to sensors that are immersed in the tank, and to the walls of the tank itself.
The result is that the tank, and those components, can become plated with residue that contains significant quantities of the precious metal you are using. That residue might not look like the bright shiny gold or silver or platinum that you are applying, but it might contain significant amounts of those rare metals anyway. The same can be true of the electrolytic fluid that you use in your plating; when you dispose of it, you could be disposing of valuable precious metal at the same time.
The result? When tanks, drain pipes, and other components become sufficiently contaminated after use, the quality of your platings can become compromised. Instead of only plating your parts with the precious metal you intend to, other elements that have contaminated your electrolytic fluid can stick to them too. At that point, you are faced with some choices. You could scrub and clean the tanks, which needlessly discards quantities of precious metals. Or you could call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss the used tank scrap and other plating components that you have. We’re ready to recommend strategies that will help you recoup the value in the precious metals you have been using in your plating processes.
You could have traces of precious metals on your tank surfaces, on filter screens, in drain pipes, in accumulations of sludge, or on immersed sensors. And if you use a brush plating process in which an electrically charged metal brush is used to apply precious metal to the pieces you want to plate, your used plating brushes can contain precious metals too. Unless you call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your used tank scrap and other recyclables, you could be throwing dollars away.