78Pt Platinum

Year Discovered

Known in antiquity in South America. Europeans discovered it in 1735.

Discovered By

Antonio de Ulloa of Spain

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named from the Spanish word for silver, platinum is a lustrous, silvery-white metal that is very stable, being unaffected by air, water and most acids. It does react with molten bases. Platinum is a malleable and ductile metal, and used in jewelry, dental appliances, electrical contacts, electrical equipment, corrosion-resistant equipment, missile nose cones, jet engine parts, catalysts and catalytic converters in automobiles. Platinum compounds are used in anti-cancer drugs for fighting specific cancers, especially leukemia, A platinum-osmium alloy is used in pacemakers and heart replacement valves. Like palladium, platinum absorbs hydrogen. Platinum-cobalt alloys are magnetic.

Biological Benefits

Platinum has no known biological use.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefits for life processes in plants and animals.


Platinum is found in its pure native form or in platiniridium, a natural alloy of platinum and iridium. Platinum is present in thin sulfide layers in certain mafic igneous bodies. Platinum-group metals are mined in South Africa (top producer), Russia, Zimbabwe, Canada, and the United States. Some platinum is obtained as a by-product of copper and nickel processing.