Last Updated: April 28, 2024


Discover the fascinating world of Ruthenium, a versatile and rare transition metal that plays a pivotal role in modern technology and industrial applications. This complete guide offers an in-depth look into Ruthenium’s unique properties, exploring its various uses from electronics to catalysis. With examples illustrating its significance in enhancing durability and performance, delve into the multifaceted nature of Ruthenium. Uncover how this precious element contributes to advancements in chemical reactions, sustainable energy solutions, and more, making it a key player in the field of advanced materials science.

What is Ruthenium?

Ruthenium is a hard, silvery-white metallic element that is distinguished by its remarkable properties and a wide range of applications. With the atomic number 44. Ruthenium is notable for its high resistance to wear and corrosion, making it an ideal candidate for use in harsh environments. This element does not occur freely in nature but is usually found in ores with other platinum group metals from which it is extracted. Ruthenium is Dxtensively used in various fields, particularly in the chemical industry as a catalyst for hydrogenation and ammonia synthesis, and in electronics for manufacturing wear-resistant electrical contacts and thick-film resistors. .

Ruthenium Formula

  • Formula: Ru
  • Composition: Consists of a single ruthenium atom.
  • Bond Type: In its elemental form, ruthenium does not have bonds as it is a pure element. However, ruthenium can form covalent or ionic bonds when reacting with other elements.
  • Molecular Structure: As a pure element, ruthenium does not form a molecular structure in the same sense as compounds like H₂. At room temperature, ruthenium is in a metallic state with a hcp (hexagonal close-packed) crystalline structure.
  • Electron Sharing: In compounds, ruthenium typically shares electrons covalently or transfers electrons ionically, depending on the nature of the other element(s) it is bonding with.
  • Significance: Ruthenium is notable for its hardness and resistance to external environments, making it invaluable in wear-resistant electrical contacts and thick-film resistors. It is also crucial for its catalytic properties, especially in chemical reactions such as hydrogenation and ammonia synthesis.
  • Role in Chemistry: Ruthenium plays a significant role in catalysis, both in industrial processes and organic chemistry. Its compounds are essential for advanced materials, electronics, and sustainable chemistry, marking it as a key material in cutting-edge technological and chemical research.

Atomic Structure of Ruthenium

Atomic Structure of Ruthenium

Ruthenium, unlike hydrogen, is a metal with unique characteristics, including a high melting point and an even higher boiling point, showcasing its stability in solid form under standard conditions. Ruthenium’s behavior at the atomic and molecular levels significantly diverges from that of hydrogen, attributable to its position in the periodic table as a transition metal and its metallic nature.

Atomic Level: Each ruthenium atom (Ru) contains 44 protons in its nucleus and has 44 electrons orbiting around it. The electron configuration of ruthenium is ⦏Kr⦐4d⁷5s¹, indicating it has seven electrons in its outermost d shell available for bonding.

Molecular Formation: In its metallic form, ruthenium does not form molecules like H₂. Instead, ruthenium atoms are arranged in a crystalline lattice structure when solid. This structure involves the sharing of electrons between numerous ruthenium atoms in a metallic bond, distinct from the covalent bonding seen in hydrogen molecules. When melted, ruthenium becomes a liquid but retains its metallic bonding characteristics, leading to its significant density and surface tension, even as a liquid.

Properties of Ruthenium

Properties of Ruthenium

Physical Properties of Ruthenium

Property Value
Atomic Number 44
Atomic Weight 101.07
Melting Point 2,334 °C (4,233 °F)
Boiling Point 4,150 °C (7,502 °F)
Density at 20°C 12.1 g/cm³
State at 20 °C Solid
Color Silvery-white metallic
Electrical Conductivity 1.45×10⁶ S/m
Thermal Conductivity 117 W/(m·K)
Heat of Fusion 24.06 kJ/mol
Heat of Vaporization 595 kJ/mol
Atomic Radius 134 pm
Crystal Structure Hexagonal close-packed (hcp)
Oxidation States -2, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8

Chemical Properties of Ruthenium

Ruthenium, with its symbol Ru and atomic number 44, stands out in the periodic table due to its unique chemical properties. This transition metal is part of the platinum group, exhibiting a rich chemistry and a wide range of oxidation states, from -2 to +8, with +2, +3, and +4 being the most common. Below are some of the key chemical properties of Ruthenium:

  1. Oxidation States and Complex Formation: Ruthenium displays versatility in its oxidation states, enabling it to form a diverse array of compounds and complexes. For example, Ruthenium can form octahedral complexes in its +3 oxidation state, such as RuCl₃.
  2. Reactivity with Oxygen: At high temperatures, Ruthenium reacts with oxygen to form Ruthenium(IV) oxide (RuO₂), a solid with significant catalytic properties.
    • 2Ru+O₂→2RuO₂
  3. Reaction with Halogens: Ruthenium reacts with halogens to form various halide compounds, such as Ruthenium(III) chloride (RuCl₃), under specific conditions.
    • 2Ru+3Cl₂→2RuCl₃
  4. Catalytic Properties: Ruthenium catalysts are involved in several important chemical reactions, including the hydrogenation of carbon-carbon double bonds, and the oxidation of alcohols. Its catalytic activity is a result of its ability to easily change oxidation states and form complexes with organic molecules.
  5. Water Gas Shift Reaction: Ruthenium catalysts are effective in the water gas shift reaction, converting carbon monoxide and water into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, showcasing its importance in hydrogen production.
    • CO+H₂O→H₂+CO₂
  6. Ammonia Synthesis: Although less common than iron, Ruthenium-based catalysts have been explored for the synthesis of ammonia, demonstrating the potential for high efficiency under milder conditions.

Thermodynamic Properties of Ruthenium

Property Value
Melting Point 2334 °C
Boiling Point 4150 °C
Heat of Fusion 25.52 kJ/mol
Heat of Vaporization 595 kJ/mol
Specific Heat Capacity 24.06 J/(mol·K)

Material Properties of Ruthenium

Property Value
Density 12.45 g/cm³
Mohs Hardness 6.5
Young’s Modulus 447 GPa
Thermal Conductivity 117 W/(m·K)
Electrical Resistivity 7.1 µΩ·m (at 20 °C)

Electromagnetic Properties of Ruthenium

Property Value
Electrical Conductivity Moderate, decreases with temperature increase
Magnetic Susceptibility Paramagnetic at room temperature
Superconductivity Does not exhibit superconductivity under normal conditions

Nuclear Properties of Ruthenium

Property Value
Natural Isotopes Ru-96, Ru-98, Ru-99, Ru-100, Ru-101, Ru-102, Ru-104
Most Stable Isotope Ru-106 with a half-life of 373.59 days
Neutron Cross Section Varied, depends on isotope
Primary Decay Mode Beta decay for heavier isotopes

Preparation of Ruthenium

  • Ore Processing: Ruthenium is obtained as a by-product of nickel and platinum mining. The ores are processed to extract platinum group metals, including ruthenium.
  • Initial Separation: The extracted metals undergo initial separation through various chemical and physical methods to isolate the platinum group metals.
  • Extraction of Ruthenium: Aqua regia is used to dissolve the platinum group metals, and ruthenium is separated from the solution through a series of chemical reactions.
  • Conversion to Ruthenium(III) Chloride: The isolated ruthenium is converted into ruthenium(III) chloride (RuCl₃) by chlorination.
  • Reduction to Metallic Ruthenium: Ruthenium(III) chloride is then reduced to metallic ruthenium using hydrogen gas at high temperatures.
  • Purification: The metallic ruthenium is further purified through processes like recrystallization or zone refining to achieve high purity levels suitable for industrial and commercial applications.
  • Formation into Usable Forms: Finally, pure ruthenium is processed into forms such as powder, sponge, or ingots, depending on its intended use

Chemical Compounds of Ruthenium

  1. Ruthenium Trichloride (RuCl₃) – A versatile catalyst used in organic synthesis.
    Equations: Ru+32Cl₂→RuCl₃
  2. Ruthenium Oxide (RuO₂) – Utilized in supercapacitors and chlorine production.
    Equations: Ru+O₂→RuO₂
  3. Ruthenium Tetroxide (RuO₄) – Applied in organic chemistry for oxidizing alcohols.
    Equations: Ru+2O₂→RuO₄
  4. Ruthenium Hexafluoride (RuF₆) – Shows the high oxidation state of ruthenium.
    Equations: Ru+3F₂→RuF₆
  5. Ruthenium(III) Acetate [Ru(C₂H₃O₂)3] – Catalyst in organic synthesis. Equations: Ru+3CH₃COOH→Ru(C₂H₃O₂)₃
  6. Ruthenium(II) Carbonate [RuCO₃] – Used in research for carbon capture processes. Equations: Ru+CO₂→RuCO₃Ru+CO₂→RuCO₃.

Isotopes of Ruthenium

Isotope Natural Abundance (%) Half-Life Notes
Ru-96 5.54 Stable
Ru-98 1.87 Stable
Ru-99 12.76 Stable
Ru-100 12.60 Stable
Ru-101 17.06 Stable
Ru-102 31.55 Stable
Ru-104 18.62 Stable
Ru-106 Trace 373.59 days Used in radiation therapy for eye and skin cancers

Uses of Ruthenium

Uses of Ruthenium

Ruthenium, a versatile element in the platinum group metals, has numerous applications across various industries due to its unique properties:

  1. Catalysis: Ruthenium is widely used as a catalyst in chemical reactions, including hydrogenation and ammonia synthesis, due to its ability to easily change oxidation states.
  2. Electronics: Ruthenium-based compounds are used in the production of advanced electronic components, such as chips and capacitors, improving performance and durability.
  3. Jewelry: Alloyed with platinum and palladium, Ruthenium enhances the hardness and wear resistance of jewelry, making it a popular choice for high-end pieces.
  4. Chemical Industry: Ruthenium plays a critical role in the chemical manufacturing process, especially in the production of chlorine and in the oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes.
  5. Energy Storage: Ruthenium oxide is utilized in supercapacitors and batteries, contributing to the development of high-performance energy storage systems.
  6. Solar Cells: It is used in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) as part of the dye that captures sunlight, helping convert solar energy into electrical energy efficiently.
  7. Medicine: Ruthenium isotopes, particularly Ru-106, are used in radiotherapy for the treatment of eye and skin cancers, leveraging its radioactive properties for targeted cancer therapy.

Production of Ruthenium

  • Extraction from Ores: Ruthenium is primarily extracted from ores containing platinum group metals, found in regions like South Africa, Russia, and North America.
  • Processing and Refining: After initial extraction, the metals undergo complex processing, including solvent extraction, to separate ruthenium from other metals.
  • Chemical Treatment: Ruthenium is typically separated using chemical reactions, often involving chlorine or aqua regia, to convert it into volatile compounds.
  • Final Reduction: The ruthenium compounds are then reduced to pure ruthenium metal using methods like hydrogen reduction.
  • Purification: Further purification ensures the removal of any impurities, often through repeated dissolution and precipitation steps.

Applications of Ruthenium

  • Catalysis: Ruthenium is widely used as a catalyst in chemical reactions, including hydrogenation and in fuel cells.
  • Electronics: Its electrical conductivity properties make it valuable in the production of thick-film resistors and electrical contacts.
  • Jewelry and Coatings: Ruthenium plating provides a hard, durable, and shiny finish for jewelry and electrical contacts.
  • Data Storage: Ruthenium compounds are explored for their potential in advanced data storage technologies, such as hard disk drives.
  • Chemical Industry: Ruthenium complexes are used in the chemical industry for oxidation reactions and in solar energy conversion.
  • Medicine: Some ruthenium complexes are being researched for use in cancer treatment as potential anticancer drugs.

Ruthenium highlighting its remarkable chemical diversity through six key compounds. Each compound showcases Ruthenium’s versatility in applications ranging from organic synthesis to electrochemical processes and solar energy conversion. Understanding these compounds illuminates Ruthenium’s crucial role in advancing various scientific and industrial fields, underlining its significance beyond its mere position on the periodic table.

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