Osmium is a chemical element represented by the symbol Os and has seven naturally occurring isotopes. It belongs to the platinum group and is obtained when platinum is extracted from ores such as osmiridium and iridosmine. Osmium is found in alloys of iridium and in traces of metals such as nickel and copper, and is highly volatile and water soluble in nature. It is a hard and brittle metal that remains lustrous even at high temperatures. The high toxic and volatile properties of osmium restrains its use in pure form for high-wear applications. Although manmade osmium also comes from chromium smelters, hospital incinerators, and the normal operation of cars i.e. from catalytic convertors, it is primarily the industrial extraction and refining of platinum that produces bulk of osmium.
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Osmium concentrates are manufactured as a by-product of copper and nickel mining or while isolating platinum metal from its ores. Distillation or organic solvent extraction of these ores yield volatile osmium tetroxide (OsO4), which is collected and precipitated using potassium hydroxide. The resultant salt is reduced and roasted to yield a fine power of osmium.
Osmium offers a wide variety of medical applications. For instance, an alloy of 90% platinum and 10% osmium is used in surgical implants such as pacemakers and replacement heart valves due to its inertness. Furthermore, osmium tetroxide aids in fingerprint detection and staining fatty tissues using electron and optical microscopy. Different compounds combined with osmium like Organo-Osmium FY26, could aid in treating cancerous cells. Furthermore, these osmium compounds are not cross-resistant with platinum. Osmium Mettalicum 30 is a medicine that aids in treatment of glaucoma and high blood pressure. Therefore, use of osmium in the healthcare sector for various applications is a major factor expected to propel the global osmium market growth.
Filaments of osmium metal are also used as a catalyst. Furthermore, its high refractivity is desirable in space-based UV spectrometers, which have reduced mirror sizes due to space limitations.
A major factor that drives growth of the global osmium market is its remarkable properties such as stability and hardness. These properties help in manufacturing high quality ballpoint and fountain pens, electrical contacts, jewelry such as rings, record player needles, long life gramophone needles, compass needles, instrument pivots, and other devices prone to frequent wear and tear. Usage of osmium helps to improve the overall quality by making the end product such as nibs, needles hard, stable, and corrosion resistant. Such wide variety of applications of osmium is expected to aid in growth of the global osmium market.
However, osmium is a rare and expensive element, which is a major factor restraining the global osmium market growth. Pure osmium generally costs between US$ 12,000 and US$ 14,000 per kilogram. Moreover, osmium-187 is a more expensive and useful isotope, which costs between US$ 15,0000 and US$ 25,0000.
Furthermore, availability of substitue products such as tugsten, which is used in light bulb filaments, could negatovely affect growth of the global osmium market.
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According to the Coherent Market Insights’ analysis, North America held the dominant position in the market in 2017. According to the United States Geological Survey, U.S. imported 322 Kilograms of Osmium in 2014. In North America region, the U.S. and Canada are projected to maintain its dominance throughout the forecast period.
The largest known primary reserves of osmium include the Bushveld igneous complex in South Africa. However, the copper-nickel deposits near Norilsk in Russia and the Canada-based Sudbury basin are also important osmium sources.
Key Players in the Global Osmium Market
Key players operating in the global osmium market include Ceimig Limited, American Elements, Reade International Corp, Cleantech, and others.
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