Ruthenium 50mm Lucite Cube

Ruthenium (7).JPG
Ruthenium (7).JPG

Ruthenium 50mm Lucite Cube

195.00

This obscure and naturally rare metal is used in jewelry, particularly that containing platinum, to increase strength and hardness. It also finds use in the making of catalytic converters. Between the jewelry and automotive industries demand places a great strain on the modest annual supply of ruthenium. There would be no marketplace problem if new mining opportunities turned up ready to be exploited but, this being a precious metal, mining surveyors have pretty much already scoured every square inch of the globe. The result, not surprisingly, is the steady price increase of this commodity.

The melting of ruthenium requires specialized furnaces that can reach beyond 2000 degrees Celsius. At those temps it is damn near impossible for a blacksmith to attempt to beat this metal into any recognizable shape and for his efforts he’d be rewarded anyway with a string of failures as it also happens to be frustratingly brittle. Little wonder that you never hear of pure ruthenium being made into jewelry or coins!

This is a bead that has been melted using one such furnace. These machines work by exploiting electrical resistance. As an electrical current passes through the metallic filaments of a toaster or a an incandescent light bulb resistance, that is, the difficulty the electrical flow encounters along its path, results in waste heat in a manner analogous to friction. An electrical furnace operates the same way. It forces an enormous current between an anode and electrode while sandwiching the metal to be melted. The heat generated is absolutely immense and will within a matter of seconds turn just about any material into a puddle of goo.

This is what happens to a thimble’s worth of powdered ruthenium metal when put into the inferno of an electrical furnace - an apparatus that often costs tens of thousands of dollars and soaks up enough juice that it would cause neighborhood brownouts if the operator wasn’t careful. A beautiful, 5-gram pebble of pure ruthenium is left behind which is then cast in Lucite acrylic to be enjoyed for generations to come!

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