Rediscovery of the Elements: Ruthenium Page: 2 of 5
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
tional discoveries were made north and south
along the Urals.3
Soon there was a glut of platinum in Russia.
Count Frantsevich Krankin (1775-1845) of the
St. Petersburg Mint (Figure 4) proposed to use
this metal in coinage, and during 1828-1844,
1.4 million coins were struck from 485,000
ounces of platinum.' To mint these coins, the
powder metallurgy (pioneered by Chabaneau
and used by Wollaston to produce laboratory
equipment) was independently developed by
Peter Grigorievich Sobolevsky (1781-1841) in
Initial analyses of Russian platinum.
Gottfried Wilhelm Osann (1796-1866) of the
University of Dorpat (now Tartu, Figure 5), who
had studied with D6bereiner", and received his
degree in 1821 from the University of Jena,
became acquainted with the peculiar properties
of platinum to catalyze and ignite a stream of
hydrogen, and he sought a quantity of the plat-
inum wastes to search for additional elements
which might have unusual properties and
uses.' Krankin, who was sending samples of
platinum ore to prominent scientists for further
study, gave Osann four pounds.,
In his sample, Osann observed, in 1827, the
metals previously discovered by Wollaston and
Tennant"'-palladium, rhodium, iridium, and
osmium, in small quantities, just as in South
American material. His analysis was typical
for crude platinum, showing 1% or less for each
of these minor constituents, as well as the nor-
mally alloyed iron (5-10%) and small amounts
of copper and other metallic elements." Osann
continued with a confusing series of publica-
tions in which he claimed four new elements.
First, in 1828, he reported "reddish needles,"'
which he called "ruthenium." Later the same
year, not being able to repeat this preparation,
he transferred the name"ruthenium" to a crys-
tal with "a golden luster."" He simultaneously
claimed two new elements as well, which he
named pluranium ("long crystals") and polini-
um ("gray metal"). His hopes for the discovery
h gure 3. Rcka Barancha (Barancha Riuer, a tributary lowmg into the lagil Riucr at Nizhniy 1igil, must
have looked much like this when Ermak Timofeyevich, the first explorer beyond the Urals, rafted down this
stream during the beginning of his exploration of the trans-Urals in 1580. Two and a half centuries later,
platinum was discovered in this region. Notice the alluvial deposits in the foreground, which were the source
of the original discovery of platinum in the early 1820s in the Nizhniy Tagil region. The view is south, with
the city of Baranchinsky just behind the viewer (N 580 09.27 E 590 43.04). Courtesy, Konstantin Lopachak.
of a new element were dashed by his inability
to reproduce his results, by Berzelius' negative
reports of samples Osann had sent to him, and
by the frustratingly minute amounts of materi-
al that he was able to prepare. Of his plurani-
um, polinium, and "first ruthenium," two were
observed only once and, in any case, only a few
milligrams could be prepared, and then, with
only incomplete descriptions. Osann agreed
with Berzelius that his"second ruthenium"was
a mixture of zirconium, iron, silicon, and titani-
um oxides,"' and that, perhaps, polinium was
impure iridium. More modern assessments of
Osann's claims by scholars in platinum chem-
istry conclude that polinium was impure iridi-
um with perhaps some ruthenium, pluranium
was an unknown mixture with possibly some
ruthenium, and that the "first ruthenium" (red-
dish crystals) may have been an impure mixture
of osmium and ruthenium tetroxides.3
The discovery of ruthenium. Karl
Karlovich Klaus (1796-1864), a native of Dorpat
and a student of its famed university, was orig-
inally trained as a pharmacist, and in 1826, he
moved to Kazan to open up his own pharmacy
there. (Klaus is sometimes known by his
German name Carl Ernst Claus; "Karlovich" is
the Russian patronym)."' Throughout his life,
he frequently visited the steppes of Russia and
made extensive studies of the flora around the
Volga. During some of his travels, he became
acquainted with the Ural placer deposits and
became interested in platinum chemistry. In
1831 he sold his pharmacy and returned to
Dorpat to study chemistry; in 1837 he won his
Master's degree. While at Dorpat, he become
acquainted with Osann's research and the
question of further platinum elements. He took
an appointment in the pharmacy department at
the University of Kazan, but soon was given
responsibilities in the chemistry department
and soon was moving up the ranks in that
department (Figures 6 and 7).
At the University of Kazan, Klaus began
research on the platinum problem, along with
his favorite pastime of traveling about the
Siberian steppes and preparing painted illustra-
N I ,i
Figure 4. This is the St. Petersburg Mint, next to the St. Peter
and Paul Cathedral on the fortress island which Peter the Great
built as a precaution against Swedish attack shortly after he
founded St. Petersburg in 1703. In the St.Peter and Paul
Cathedral, all of the Russian czars and families are buried,
including the remains of the assassinated (1918) family of the
last Czar Nicholas II, which were excavated after 1998 from a
field near Ekaterinburg. The Mint was founded in 1724; the
present building itself was built 1798-1806. The residues from
the platinum coinage 1828-1844 were stored here, which were
eventually used by Klaus in his platinum-group research.
The inscription at the top is "Monetniy Gvor"= "Money Yard."
The location is N 590 57.00 E 300 18.87.
SUMMER 2009/THE HEXAGON
.4-.. M 6fl Y+Gicr a RG f(
Here’s what’s next.
This article can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Article.
Marshall, James L., 1940- & Marshall, Virginia R. Rediscovery of the Elements: Ruthenium, article, Summer 2009; Indianapolis, Indiana. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc111238/m1/2/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.