The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook and Google+ pages.

Why Catalytic Convertors Contain PGMs

January 9, 2018 07:00
Why Catalytic Convertors Contain PGMs

Besides jewelry, platinum group metals (PGMs) are known for their use in catalytic converters for automobiles and other equipment that use combustion engines. The demand for catalytic converters is so strong that it affects the whole PGM market. But why do these devices require expensive precious metals to work?

The purpose of a catalytic converter is to create cleaner emissions. Although catalytic converters look like a filter on the inside, they don't clean exhaust by filtering it. Instead, they chemically convert the toxic substances in engine exhaust into inert or less toxic substances. This reaction is catalyzed by the PGMs inside the converter.

The filter-like portion of a catalytic converter is actually a substrate plated with an extremely thin layer of PGMs. When exhaust passes through this section, the ambient heat and PGMs kick start multiple chemical reactions. Rhodium enables the reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen. Palladium promotes the oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, and the oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water. Platinum helps with both reduction and oxidation reactions while also giving the substrate more corrosion resistance.

Most of the world’s PGMs go toward the production of catalytic converters, so it’s important to recycle these devices to reclaim the rare metals inside. At MGS, we cannot accept whole catalytic converters – we can only accept the PGM components (pictured). For more information and a payout quote, please contact us.

New Alloy could Popularize Hydrogen Fuel

January 4, 2018 07:00
New Alloy could Popularize Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen has long been touted as a high efficiency, environmentally friendly fuel of the future. While hydrogen fuel cells have existed for quite some time, practical limitations have kept the technology from going mainstream. First, creating hydrogen is a difficult and energy intensive process. When you account for the elevated temperature, electricity, catalyst replenishment, and time required, the net-gain of energy spent vs hydrogen created is poor. Second, because hydrogen fuel is heavy and requires pressurization in large tanks, it's difficult to transport and store. Third, it can't really be stockpiled. Over time, pressurized hydrogen becomes unstable and it’s simple molecules slowly but surely escape their containers. However, all of these problems may now have solutions thanks to a newly developed alloy.

Researchers at the US Army Aberdeen Proving Ground Research Laboratory in Maryland developed a high-strength aluminum alloy powder. During routine materials testing of the new alloy, they observed that it had galvanic properties when the addition of water created a bubbling reaction that generated hydrogen gas. Without meaning to, they discovered a sustainable way to produce hydrogen on demand.

Essentially, this would solve all of the problems we mentioned above. Additionally, because the aluminum material is compatible with 3D printing, the researchers envision creating devices and robots that can use fuel derived from their very structures. But before then, the researchers plan to fully document and field test their discovery to guarantee the reaction works the way it should.

How Impurities Change Gold's Color

January 3, 2018 07:00

The term "impurities" has many connotations, but in gold mining and refining, impurities refer to anything that lowers the karat weight or millesimal fineness of a sample of gold. In our business, we’ll accept practically any scraps or objects that contain gold, but we ONLY pay for the gold content – impurities mixed in or alloyed with the gold like iron or nickel end up as waste products of our refinery process. However, that doesn’t mean impurities are worthless!  
Impurities can be used to change gold’s physical properties (like hardness) or appearance. Just like mixing different kinds of paint to create new shades, mixing gold with other metals creates new colors. By adding "impurities" the creative jeweler or goldsmith gets to make a veritable rainbow of new colors that still have gold's signature luster, weight, and value. For example, "white gold" is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, such as nickel or palladium. In the infographic below, you can learn about the different shades of gold and what types of metal are used to create those colors.

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