Wire drawing using pgm

Pgms and specialist metallurgy

We're a world leader in pgms (platinum group metals) and specialist metallurgy, with over 200 years' experience dealing with precious metals products and chemicals.

Then

1817

JM was founded on the expertise of Percival Norton Johnson in the assaying and refining of precious metals

 
Now

2020

We recycle enough platinum group metals each year to make millions of catalytic converters

Platinum group metals (pgms) are a precious a natural resource that we need to look after and use carefully. They are important for many applications like emission control, industrial process chemistry, corrosion protection, medical implants and to make beautiful jewellery. So, developing methods to recover and purify these precious metals from a diverse range of sources means we can continue to use them.

What are pgms?

There are six transition metals, which share similar properties, that are known as the platinum group metals or pgms. They are:

  • Platinum (Pt)
  • Palladium (Pd)
  • Ruthenium (Ru)
  • Rhodium (Rh)
  • Iridium (Ir)
  • Osmium (Os)

 

What is metallurgy?

Metallurgy is the scientific study of the chemistry and physical properties of metals, intermetallic compounds and alloys, and is used for extraction, production, purification and fabrication of these materials.

platinum grain

JM's expertise in pgms and specialist metallurgy

Our expertise in pgms and specialist metallurgy is all about the efficient recycling, fabrication and use of pgms and other precious metals like gold and silver. Our pgm recycling activities rely on our deep knowledge of material science, chemistry, speciation, pyrometallurgy, advanced hydrometallurgy processing and analytical science. With this, we have developed a suite of accurate, advanced and efficient processes for measuring, extracting and separating pgms from waste materials including spent process catalysts, autocatalysts, secondary mine residues and jewellery or scrap metal.

As well as being the world’s largest recycler of pgms, we’re one of the only companies able to refine pgms to market grade sponge, including iridium and ruthenium, and can accommodate feeds containing gold and silver.

We offer closed loop recycling - when a pgm-containing catalyst reaches the end of its useful life, our customers can return it to us to extract the valuable metals. We then use this extracted pgm to produce a new catalyst, greatly reducing the cost of replacement. We also offer our recycling service to anyone who wants to extract pgms from used material, ranging from catalytic converters in old vehicles to the sweepings from jewellers’ floors.

 

Forging new paths

But it’s not all about recycling. Through our research we continue to deepen our understanding of pgms and their chemistry, handling, formulation, solubility and reactivity. This allows us to develop materials and determine under what conditions they work best, predict behaviour and find novel ways of using pgms. For example, we add them to cheaper metals to produce steel-based alloys that are more resistant to corrosion and can tolerate high temperatures, but at much lower cost. In these 'graded alloys', pgms are incorporated only in the outer regions of the alloy, where their corrosion-resistance properties are most required. We are also finding more efficient and less expensive ways to make pgm-containing components, by fabricating them from powders using techniques such as injection moulding or 3D printing.

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