Ruthenium Metal – Invulnerable to Aqua Regia

Ruthenium Metal – Invulnerable to Aqua Regia


Greetings fellow nerds. I have here a one gram sample of pure ruthenium metal. It’s very useful to a professional inorganic chemist, but has limited use for an amateur. Nonetheless it is very interesting because it’s almost impervious to most acids. Let me show you. Here it is immersed in hydrochloric acid. As you can see, the acid has no effect on it. Now I’ve got it in some nitric acid. Still totally unscathed. I didn’t film it, but it also has no reaction to sulfuric acid. Now I’ll pull out the big guns and hit it with a mixture of both hydrochloric and nitric acid. This mixture of of acids is known as aqua regia and can dissolve gold. But as you can see here the ruthenium doesn’t even flinch. Even with direct heating the metal is completely invulnerable to the aqua regia. Those bubbles are the acid decomposing, not the metal. Here is the bead and as you can see it’s completely untouched. I weighed this with a precision scale both before and after my destructive tirade but it lost no mass, meaning it is truly invulnerable. Not to be defeated, I finally found it’s Achilles heel with a an extremely simple household chemical – bleach. The yellow product is a mixture of ruthenate and perruthenate ions. The bubbles are a combination of oxygen and extremely toxic ruthenium tetroxide gas. So do not perform this experiment yourself without a proper fume hood. Anyway, this shows you the rock-paper-scissors nature of chemistry. This metal, ruthenium, is impervious to some of the strongest acids in chemistry. But is instead brought down by the simple household chemical of bleach. Thanks for watching, please subscribe, rate and comment.

100 thoughts on “Ruthenium Metal – Invulnerable to Aqua Regia

  1. If you did that you'd get quite a toxic gas I think. It's the same as why they won't mix the acid and chlorine used to maintain pH in swimming pools, it gives off chlorine gas. Happened to me where I used to work, they evacuated not only the building but most of the people in a 1km radius around.

  2. In an atomic level, electrons repel electrons since they have the same negative charge, and also according to the Pauli exclusion principle all of an atom's electrons cannot be pushed down to the same energy level.

  3. I thought Bleach was normally a base and not an acid. If it reacts with Bleach, could it, potentially, react with Sodium Hydroxide, or Ammonia? 

  4. @dolmandabean ……. did you like just not pay attention to the video or something? or read the discription?? because he makes it pretty clear that Aqua Regia IS A MIXTURE of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid.

  5. it is interesting how its atomic structuring allows it to withstand acids but not bases im curious what its reaction with other metals might be such as gallium or other altering materials that arent actual bases or acids

  6. To take out the REALLY big guns:
    What about fluoroantimonic acid? As far as I know it currently is the strongest acid known to mankind.

  7. First off Gallium would be a liquid , not a solid. Secondly, this person knows more about chemistry than most of you ever will, so stop telling him he's incorrect or over-looked something. As far as I know ruthenium is the only pure metal that can withstand aqua regia, hence the reasoning for this vid.

  8. Does the passivation phenomena explains that? I Mean if the metal is already protected by a layer of oxide or it faces the acids directly? I mean titanium, tungsten, tantalum etc all of them are so resistant because of the passivation layer, on the other hand metals like palladium, platinum, gold etc doesn't had any protection and the atom itself is so unreactive that will withstands the acids "directly" also, I want to know if Ru can survive in seawater

  9. Are you truly being so ignorant? A butane flame is lower than 30 celsius? Ha, that's a no. It is clearly not gallium…if you think it's gallium I think you're stupid. Simple and plain

  10. @biggdaddy2001  Bleach is a powerful base, or alkaline, which is the opposite of an acid. It isn't sodium chloride. Try washing your socks with rock salt lol

  11. I know this has been pointed out before that bleach is a base instead of an acid so given that might be the reason it worked why didn't you try more basic solutions?

  12. I would love to see rhodium chemical resistance. From I was able to learn metallic rhodium does not dissolve in aqua regia (at normal conditions) but it dissolve in hot concentrated sulphuric acid which in reaction creates rose red colored salt rhodium sulfate (Rh2(SO4)3). Rhodium salts like rhodium chloride (RhCl3) can be dissolved in alkalis. And metallic rhodium does not dissolve in bleach (water solution of sodium hypochlorite NaClO).

  13. I do not question this video however similar to rhodium, ruthenium dissolves in aqua regia. Ruthenium like rhodium, iridium and osmium does not dissolves in aqua regia at normal conditions but if aqua regia is heated above 100 celsius degrees ruthenium dissolves slightly. Please do not try this if I'm right, it is very dangerous!

  14. so.. what if you make an alloy of this stuff with a metal that resists bleach, would you get a metal impervious to everything..?

  15. So is there any element that doesn't react with any other element and also can't be dissolved in any other combination of elements?

  16. I know ruthenium is relatively brittle, does anyone know if it would take a strike if you wanted to use it in jewelery? The references I saw to it being brittle were regarding drawing it out for wire but that's a very different thing to taking a stamped image.

  17. One day a chemist was putting ruthenium in acid. It wasn't working. "This shit just doesn't want to dissolve." Then he looked around his bathroom and saw bleach. "Fuck it." And suprisingly, it worked. The end.
    If you want to read it to your kid-genius, please skip the profanity 😉

  18. Thanks for sharing the video. I'm interested in another issue concerning ruthenium, and I haven't been able to get any traction in researching it, so if you don't mind, I'll go ahead and bring it up here. Can you (or anyone) tell me whether ruthenium will dissolve in molten tin or molten bismuth (and if so, at what temperature(s)), or at least give me some idea where I might look to find information of that kind?

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  20. I gave a presentation on Ruthenium and used information from this video as part of it. One of the audience questions was, "But why is Ruthenium so resistant to acids?" I had actually tried searching for an answer for this, but all I could find was articles telling it is resistant to acids, not why. Would anyone know?

  21. Can confirm that this works. Works excellent on polished ruthenium as an etchant for revealing the microstructure.

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