The Importance of Iridium in Emerging Technologies
Iridium is a rare and valuable metal that is widely used in various industries due to its unique properties. It is a member of the platinum group metals (PGMs), which also include platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, and ruthenium. Iridium is named after the Greek goddess Iris, who was known for her rainbow-like colors, which is fitting given iridium’s colorful and iridescent properties.
One of the primary uses of iridium is in the production of catalysts. Iridium is an excellent catalyst due to its high melting point, corrosion resistance, and ability to promote chemical reactions. It is particularly useful in the production of fertilizers, which are essential for modern agriculture. Iridium catalysts are used to produce ammonia, which is the primary component of most fertilizers. The use of iridium in the production of fertilizers has significantly increased crop yields and improved food security around the world.
Another important use of iridium is in the production of electronics. Iridium is a critical component in the manufacture of hard disk drives, which are used to store and retrieve digital information in computers and other electronic devices. Iridium is used in hard disk drives because it is a hard, dense metal that can withstand the high temperatures and pressures involved in the manufacturing process. Without iridium, the production of hard disk drives would be much more challenging and expensive.
Iridium is also used in the aerospace industry due to its high melting point and resistance to corrosion. It is used in the production of jet engine parts, rocket thrusters, and other components that need to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures. Iridium is also used in the construction of satellites and other spacecraft, where it is used to coat surfaces and protect them from the harsh conditions of outer space.
Finally, iridium is used in the production of jewelry and other decorative items. Iridium has a beautiful silvery-white color and is very hard and durable, making it an ideal metal for jewelry. Iridium is often used to make wedding rings and other pieces of jewelry that are meant to last a lifetime.
Overall, the importance of iridium cannot be overstated. It is a rare and valuable metal that has a wide range of uses in various industries, including agriculture, electronics, aerospace, and jewelry. Without iridium, many of the products and technologies that we rely on every day would not be possible, making it an essential component of modern life.
Future view on Iridium
In the near future, as the hydrogen industry continues to grow dramatically, material sourcing concerns are most acutely focused on Iridium.
The metal is used to catalyze the oxygen evolution reaction within polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer cells, one of the two most commercially advanced technologies for producing green hydrogen.
This will put pressure on demand and prices as Iridium is found in extremely low concentrations in the earth’s crust — at approximately 0.000003 parts per million. It is only extracted as a by-product isolated during platinum and palladium production at an annual tonnage measured in the single digits.
Iridium is a valuable and versatile metal that has a range of uses in several industries, including electronics, aerospace, agriculture & hydrogen industries. Its unique properties make it an ideal material for the production of hard disk drives, electronic contacts, and jet engine parts. Iridium is also an essential component in the construction of satellites and other spacecraft, where it is used to protect surfaces from the harsh conditions of outer space. Finally, iridium is an essential component in the production of fertilizers, which have significantly increased crop yields and improved food security around the world. The new applications of Iridium and the concern of supply shortage pushed iridium prices from ~50000$/Kg in 2021 up to 180000$/Kg in 2023.