Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Increasing Levels Of Rare Element Found Worldwide

Date:
April 23, 2009
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Researchers have determined that the presence of the rare element osmium is on the rise globally. They trace this increase to the consumption of refined platinum, the primary ingredient in catalytic converters, the equipment commonly installed in cars to reduce smog.

Dartmouth researchers have determined that the presence of the rare element osmium is on the rise globally. They trace this increase to the consumption of refined platinum, the primary ingredient in catalytic converters, the equipment commonly installed in cars to reduce smog. A volatile form of osmium is generated during platinum refinement and also during the normal operation of cars, and it gets dispersed globally through the atmosphere.

While osmium is found naturally, the researchers were surprised to discover that most of the osmium in rain and snow, and in the surface waters of rivers and oceans, is produced during the refining of platinum. "It's interesting, maybe ironic, that we stopped adding lead to gasoline in the 70s so that catalytic converters could be introduced to remove smog from car exhaust," says Dartmouth Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Mukul Sharma. "Now we learn that using platinum in the converters is responsible for an increase in osmium. Fortunately, unlike lead, the concentration of osmium in water is extremely small and may not adversely affect biology."

Sharma worked with Dartmouth Ph.D. student Cynthia Chen and Peter Sedwick at Old Dominion University. Their study will be published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of April 20, 2009.

The research team measured osmium in precipitation in North America, Europe, Asia, and Antarctica, and in both surface water and deep water from the North Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic (or Southern) Oceans. Human-made osmium also comes from chromium smelters, hospital incinerators, and the normal operation of cars, but it's primarily the industrial extraction and refining of platinum that produces the bulk of the osmium found in rain and snow.

Sharma explains that about 95 percent of the world's platinum comes from South Africa and Russia where it is roasted at extremely high temperatures during the extraction and refinement process. The process removes sulfur present in the ore as sulfur dioxide and, at the same time, releases osmium, which is abundant in the ore.

"Neither South Africa nor Russia has implemented environmental laws regulating this, but if steps are taken to minimize these emissions, the incidence of osmium will certainly subside," says Sharma. "It's surprising that we are seeing this measurable increase in osmium on a global scale, and we can virtually blame it on one thing: our insatiable demand for platinum-based catalytic converters."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Increasing Levels Of Rare Element Found Worldwide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421141113.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2009, April 23). Increasing Levels Of Rare Element Found Worldwide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421141113.htm
Dartmouth College. "Increasing Levels Of Rare Element Found Worldwide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421141113.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins