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Ruthenium vs. Rhodium — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 5, 2024
Ruthenium and rhodium are both rare transition metals in the platinum group, notable for their resistance to corrosion; ruthenium is harder and cheaper, whereas rhodium is more reflective and expensive.
Ruthenium vs. Rhodium — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Ruthenium and Rhodium


Key Differences

Ruthenium is a hard, silvery-white transition metal that resists tarnishing even at high temperatures, while rhodium, also a silvery-white metal, is primarily known for its exceptional reflectivity and slightly higher melting point.
Ruthenium is often used as an alloying agent to improve the hardness of platinum and palladium, whereas rhodium is frequently used for its reflective properties in items like mirrors and jewelry.
In terms of availability, ruthenium is somewhat more abundant in the Earth's crust than rhodium, which is one of the rarest metals. This rarity makes rhodium significantly more expensive per ounce compared to ruthenium.
Ruthenium finds utility in electrical contacts and thick-film resistors, thanks to its good electrical conductivity; rhodium, on the other hand, is invaluable in automotive catalytic converters due to its excellent catalytic qualities.

Comparison Chart


Silvery-white, metallic sheen
Silvery-white, highly reflective


Harder than rhodium
Softer than ruthenium

Common Uses

Alloying with platinum and palladium
Automotive catalytic converters


Less expensive
More expensive

Catalytic Applications

Less effective catalyst
Highly effective in NOx reduction

Compare with Definitions


Used in electronics for its electrical conductivity.
Ruthenium is used in the manufacture of chips for its superior conductivity.


Has a high melting point and is resistant to corrosion.
Rhodium is used in high-temperature applications due to its robustness.


It is part of the platinum group metals.
Ruthenium, like its counterpart rhodium, is a member of the platinum group metals.


Known for its rarity and high cost.
Rhodium is often more expensive than gold due to its scarcity.


A chemical element with atomic number 44 and symbol Ru, known for its hardness and resistance to corrosion.
Ruthenium is often added to platinum alloys to increase their hardness.


A rare, silver-white element with atomic number 45 and symbol Rh, part of the platinum group metals.
Rhodium's high reflectivity makes it popular in jewelry finishing.


Lesser known for its role in chemical catalysts.
Ruthenium catalysts are crucial in some types of chemical syntheses.


It is used as a catalyst in automotive catalytic converters.
Rhodium plays a critical role in reducing harmful emissions in vehicles.


Found naturally in ores together with other platinum metals.
Ruthenium is typically mined as a byproduct of nickel and platinum extraction.


Not commonly found in nature and mostly obtained from platinum or nickel ores.
Rhodium is typically extracted from complex ores that also contain other platinum-group metals.


Ruthenium is a chemical element with the symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table.


Rhodium is a chemical element with the symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is an extraordinarily rare, silvery-white, hard, corrosion-resistant, and chemically inert transition metal.


A hard silver-white acid-resistant metallic element that is found in platinum ores and is used to harden platinum and palladium for jewelry and in alloys for nonmagnetic wear-resistant instrument pivots and electrical contacts. Atomic number 44; atomic weight 101.07; melting point 2,334°C; boiling point 4,150°C; specific gravity 12.1 (20°C); valence 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. See Periodic Table.


A hard, durable, silvery-white metallic element that is used to form high-temperature alloys with platinum and is plated on other metals to produce a durable corrosion-resistant coating. Atomic number 45; atomic weight 102.905; melting point 1,964°C; boiling point 3,695°C; specific gravity 12.41 (20°C); valence 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See Periodic Table.


A metallic chemical element (symbol Ru) with an atomic number of 44.


A rare, hard, silvery-white, inert metallic chemical element (symbol Rh) with an atomic number of 45.


(countable) An atom of this element.


(countable) A single atom of this element.


A rare element of the light platinum group, found associated with platinum ores, and isolated as a hard, brittle steel-gray metal which is very infusible. Symbol Ru. Atomic weight 103.5. Specific gravity 12.26. See Platinum metals, under Platinum.


A rare element of the light platinum group. It is found in platinum ores, and obtained free as a white inert metal which it is very difficult to fuse. Symbol Rh. Atomic weight 104.1. Specific gravity 12.


A rare polyvalent metallic element of the platinum group; it is found associated with platinum


A white hard metallic element that is one of the platinum group and is found in platinum ores; used in alloys with platinum

Common Curiosities

What are some specific uses of rhodium in industry?

Rhodium is used in mirror coatings, jewelry plating, and automotive catalytic converters.

Are there any biological roles for ruthenium?

Ruthenium has no known biological roles in humans.

What is ruthenium commonly used for?

Ruthenium is commonly used to harden platinum and palladium alloys and in electrical contacts.

Why is rhodium more expensive than other platinum group metals?

Rhodium's high cost is due to its rarity, high demand, and versatile industrial applications.

Can ruthenium and rhodium be found in pure form in nature?

No, they are typically found in ore mixed with other metals and are extracted through complex processes.

How do the chemical properties of ruthenium and rhodium differ?

Ruthenium is a bit harder and less reactive compared to rhodium, which is highly effective as a catalyst.

What makes rhodium valuable?

Rhodium's exceptional reflectivity, resistance to corrosion, and use in catalytic converters make it highly valuable.

How does the cost of ruthenium compare to rhodium?

Rhodium is significantly more expensive than ruthenium, largely due to its rarity.

Is rhodium considered a precious metal?

Yes, rhodium is considered one of the most precious metals due to its rarity and market value.

How does the electrical conductivity of ruthenium compare to rhodium?

Ruthenium has good electrical conductivity, which is utilized in various electronic components.

Why is rhodium used in automotive catalytic converters?

Rhodium is used because it efficiently reduces nitrogen oxides in exhaust gases to harmless gases.

How are ruthenium and rhodium extracted?

Both metals are extracted as byproducts from mining platinum and nickel ores.

What is the primary market for ruthenium?

The primary market for ruthenium is in the electronics and chemical industry as a catalyst and in alloying.

What is the melting point of rhodium compared to ruthenium?

Rhodium has a higher melting point than ruthenium, making it suitable for high-temperature applications.

What role does ruthenium play in renewable energy?

Ruthenium is used in solar cells and as a catalyst in hydrogen production technologies.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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