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Samples Containing Ruthenium and Osmium

General Information

Ruthenium (Ru) and Osmium (Os) are the first of the platinum group metals (PGMs –Ru, Os, Rh, Ir, Pd and Pt) to be addressed in this series. Both elements are very rare and are typically found in their elemental states or as sulfides. They are found in ores containing one or more of the other PGMs but are mainly found in platinum ores. Sample types where preparations are typically focused upon include ores, alloys and catalysts. Ruthenium and osmium are grouped together because their preparation chemistry is essentially the same. Some of the similarities between Ru and Os are shown in Table 1.

Metallic radius0.134 nm0.135 nm

Table 1. Similarities between ruthenium and osmium
PropertyRutheniumOsmium
Oxidation states 0,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Melting point (K) 2720 2790 (highest of the PGMs)
Oxides RuO2, RuO4 (oxidizing agent; acidic; volatile) OsO2, OsO4 (oxidizing agent; acidic; volatile)
Complexes Ru(III) complexes are d5and paramagnetic Os(III) complexes are d5and paramagnetic
Industrial uses Hardening electrical contacts of Pt and Pd, oxidation catalyst Hardened alloys for numerous uses, oxidation catalyst
Complex Halides (F, Cl) Forms soluble anionic hexachloro and hexafluoro complexes in the +4 and +5 oxidation states Forms soluble anionic hexachloro and hexafluoro complexes in the +4 and +5 oxidation states
Most popular sample preparation method for different chemical forms KOH/KNO3 fusion KOH/KNO3 fusion

Metals

Ru° or Os° as the pure metals are not soluble in aqua regia. Ru° and Os° are soluble upon fusion in KOH/KNO3. When Ru° is alloyed with platinum or gold it is soluble in aqua regia forming the chlorides of platinum, gold and ruthenium. Os alloyed with platinum or gold is not soluble in acids including aqua regia. Osmium occurs with platinum ores as a natural alloy with iridium (osmiridium) and remains undissolved in the form of hard, white metallic-looking grains when the ores are treated with aqua regia. There are several oxidative fusions that have been used to dissolve the metals such as K2Cr2O7 in NaOH or Na2O2 melts but the KOH/KNO3 fusion is the most popular. The KOH/KNO3 fusion is used for samples containing all of the common forms of ruthenium and osmium including the metals, sulfides, alloys and oxides.

Ru oxides

Ru2O3 is formed when finely divided Ru° is heated in air forming a blue powder which is insoluble in acids. RuO2 is formed when the metal is fused in an oxidizing atmosphere. RuO4 is formed when the metal is heated at 1000°C. The tetroxide is also obtained when acid solutions containing ruthenium are heated with oxidizing agents such as MnO4-, IO4- or Cl2. The tetroxide is volatile but can also be swept out of solution by a stream of gas at room temperature (M.P. °C: 25.4; B.P., °C: 40). The concern is loss of the volatile tetroxide. The aspiration of solutions containing the tetroxide using pneumatic nebulizers common to ICP instrumentation will cause false high signals due to the extra Ru entering the plasma due to its volatility. Fortunately the tetroxide is not formed in solutions of HNO3.

Oxidative fusions such as the popular KOH/KNO3 fusion convert all forms of ruthenium to the ruthenium tetroxide (RuO4) mixed with some of the green ruthenate (VII). Due to the possible loss of the tetroxide the fusion temperatures are kept as low as possible. The KNO3-KOH mixture forms KNO3.2H2O with a melting point of ~ 230 °C which defines the low temperature possible for this fusion. Nitrate fusions are known to become more oxidizing as the temperature is increased. KOH is added to stabilize a potentially explosive system. Since KNO3 decomposes to give off O2 at 400° C, care to keep the fusion temperature low (< 390 °C) is important. Loss of Ru may occur at fusion temperatures > 400° C. When the KOH-KNO3 fuseate is dissolved in water the Ruthenate (VI) is formed. The conversion to the ruthenate (VI) occurs according to the following reactions:

    1. 4RuO4 + 4 OH-  →  4 RuO4- +2H2O + O2 (green ruthenate (VII))
    2. 4RuO4- +4 OH-  →  4 RuO4-2 + 2H2O +O2 ( orange ruthenate (VI) )

For subsequent ICP-OES measurements the aqueous solution can be kept basic where use of a corrosion resistant introduction system is made or acidified with HCl where RuO2Cl4-2 is formed. The presence of NO3-1 under acidic conditions will not produce the volatile RuO4. Due to the complexity of the matrix, the calibration technique of standard additions is recommended.

Os oxides

An oxyhydrogen flame oxidizes the metal but does not melt it. When strongly heated in contact with air, finely divided Os° burns and is converted into OsO4, commonly called osmic acid. OsO is not a likely byproduct of common sample preparations. The formation of Os2O3 and OsO2 are also unlikely to be encountered. All of these oxides are formed when the corresponding salts are ignited in a current of CO2 i.e. a condition that is not possible in a straight carbonate fusion. Of greatest concern is the formation of OsO4. The tetroxide is formed when finely divided Os° is heated at about 400°C where it may catch fire with the formation of OsO4. The tetroxide is also formed (slowly in very dilute solutions and more rapidly in 4M solutions) in aqueous HNO3 solutions of osmium. The concern is loss of the volatile tetroxide. The aspiration of solutions containing the tetroxide using nebulizers common to ICP instrumentation will cause false high signals due to the extra Os entering the plasma due to its volatility. Please note that OsO4 is very poisonous. The odor is easily detected because it is highly disagreeable like chlorine (Osmium is derived from the Greek work osme-a smell).

The KOH/KNO3 fusion converts all forms of osmium to the potassium osmate (K2OsO4) which forms the soluble OsO4-2 upon dissolution of the melt in water. The KNO3-KOH mixture forms KNO3.2H2O with a melting point of ~ 230 °C which defines the low temperature possible for this fusion. Nitrate fusions are known to become more oxidizing as the temperature is increased. KOH is added to stabilize a potentially explosive system. Since KNO3 decomposes to give off O2 at 400° C, care to keep the fusion temperature low (< 390 °C) is important. Loss of Os may occur at fusion temperatures > 400° C. When the KOH-KNO3 fuseate is dissolved in water the Osmate (VI) is formed. For subsequent ICP-OES measurements the aqueous solution should be kept basic where use of a corrosion resistant introduction system is made.

If the aqueous solution of the fuseate is acidified with HCl the presence of NO3-1 under acidic conditions will produce the volatile OsO4. If acidification is necessary, this author has found that the addition of ammonium 1-pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate (APDC) will prevent the high readings by either complexation or by reduction to one of the lower valence osmates thereby eliminating the OsO4volatility. Either mechanism seems reasonable. OsO4 is a strong oxidizing agent in acidic media as show here:

OsO4 + 8H+ +6 Cl- +4e- =OsCl6-2 + 4H2O         +1.0 v vs N.H.E.

It is reasonable to expect that it will oxidize the APDC. However, APDC is also a bidentate ligand. The OsO4(OH-)2 is known to exist and it is very reasonable to expect that OsO4(APDC)-1 could also exist. Regardless of which mechanism is correct the addition of APDC to aqueous acidic solutions containing OsO4 does eliminate the vaporization interference. With all of this said, the analysis of the Os in a basic solution formed from the aqueous dissolution of the KOH/KNO3 fuseate is encouraged thereby eliminating formation of the volatile tetroxide.

Due to the complexity of the matrix the calibration technique of standard additions is strongly recommended.

A summary of some solution chemistry of osmium and ruthenium as it pertains to the preparation of calibration standards

CRMs manufactured by Inorganic Ventures contain both ruthenium and osmium in the +4 oxidation state as a chloride complex. The ruthenium and osmium are prepared in an HCl matrix and are believed to exist as the RuCl6-2 and the OsCl6-2 complexes. In HCl matrices these CRMs have been observed to be both stable and homogeneous. These CRMs have also been shown to be stable for years as well as stable to both extremes in temperature during shipping (short term stability).

The Handling and use of Ru CRMs – A Summary

Storage & Handling: Keep tightly sealed when not in use. Store and use at 20 ± 4°C. Do not return portions removed for pipetting to container.

Chemical Compatibility: Stable in HCl. Stable with most metals and inorganic anions as the [RuCl6]2- in dilute acidic media.

Stability: 2-100 ppb levels stable for months in 1% HNO3 / LDPE container. 1-10,000 ppm solutions chemically stable for years in 10% HCl / LDPE container.

Ru Containing Samples (Preparation & Solution):  Metal (fuse with KOH/KNO3 in a Ag0 crucible); Oxides (fuse with KOH / KNO3 in a Ag0 crucible); Ores (see Oxides); Alloys (see Oxides). Organics (the RuO4 is volatile and acidic oxidizing preparations should be used with caution. The preferred approach is the KOH / KNO3 fusion and dissolution of the fuseate in HCl).

Stability of Ru spiked into matrices resulting from the KOH/KNO3 aqueous solution of the fuseate: Due to the complex nature of matrices resulting from this preparation method, it is recommended that the technique of standard additions be used. These CRMs can be spiked into these matrices and will produce a stable solution. A good practice is to perform an analysis of the sample and sample + spike solutions on the same analytical day. Stable solutions also result from the addition of the Ru CRM to aqueous fuseate solutions acidified with hydrochloric acid.

Atomic Spectroscopic Information - Ru:
Technique / LineEstimated D.L.*OrderTypeInterferences
ICP-OES 240.272 nm 0.03/.002 µg/mL 1 ion Fe
ICP-MS 101 amu 3 ppt n/a M+ 40Ar61Ni, 64Ni37Cl, 85Rb16O, 202Hg2+

The Handling and use of Os CRMs – A Summary

Storage & Handling: Keep tightly sealed when not in use. Store and use at 20 ± 4°C. Do not pipet from container. Do not return portions removed for pipetting to container.

Chemical Compatibility: Stable in HCl. Stable with most metals and inorganic anions as the [OsCl6]2- in dilute HCl media. DO NOT EXPOSE TO NITRIC ACID - FORMATION OF THE VERY VOLATILE AND TOXIC OsO4 WILL RESULT. Any oxidizing condition must be avoided.

Stability: 2-100 ppb levels are NOT stable in 1% HNO3 / LDPE container. The stability of HCl solutions at ppb levels has not been determined by our laboratory. 1-10,000 ppm solutions are presumed chemically stable for years in 10% HCl / LDPE container; stability studies have not been completed. Please call 1-800-669-6799 for current stability information .

Os Containing Samples (Preparation & Solution): Oxides (fuse with KOH / KNO3 in a Ag0 crucible and dissolve in water being sure to avoid addition of any acid); Ores (see Oxides); Organics (the OsO4 is volatile and acidic oxidizing preparations should be used with caution. The preferred approach is the KOH / KNO3 fusion and dissolution of the fuseate in water. Our laboratory has used APDC to help stabilize Os solutions, but more work is required to define the chemistry.

Stability of Os spiked into matrices resulting from the KOH/KNO3 aqueous solution of the fuseate: Due to the complex nature of matrices resulting from this preparation method it is recommended that the technique of standard additions be used. These CRMs can be spiked into these matrices and will produce a stable solution. A good practice is to perform an analysis of the sample and sample + spike solutions on the same analytical day. Stable solutions WILL NOT RESULT from the addition of the Os CRM to aqueous fuseate solutions acidified with hydrochloric acid.

NOTE: The presence of the OsO4 will give false high results due to its enhanced nebulization efficiency (volatility). Only dilutions in HCl should be made where no nitrate or nitric acid is present. The use of nitric acid should be strictly avoided. Preparations from caustic nitrate fusions should be diluted in water not acid.

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Atomic Spectroscopic Information - Os:
Technique / LineEstimated D.L.*OrderInterferences
ICP-OES 225.585 nm 0.0004 µg/mL 1 ion Fe, Ta, Ge, Ir, Cr
ICP-MS 192 amu 1 ppt n/a M+ 176Yb16O, 176Lu16O, 176Hf16O, 192Pt
*ICP-OES D.L.'s are given as radial / axial view

Preparation of samples containing Ru and Os using KOH- KNO3 fusion

This Chapter 8 has been written around the following fusion sample preparation method where many explanations can be found:

  1. Convert the sample to a fine powder. Contamination issues, which are a problem with many determinations, are not an issue with either Ru or Os. Therefore, any grinding or crushing equipment that is available with suitable hardness will suffice.
  2. Weigh up to 1 gram of sample into a Ag crucible followed by 7 grams of KOH and 1 gram of KNO3. Keep the ratio of KOH to KNO3 between 5:1 and 9:1. The presence of the KOH stabilizes the KNO3 consequently more vigorous reactions will be observed with a smaller ratio. Larger relative amounts of the nitrate (5:1 ratio) is suggested for metals, alloys and harder to oxidize samples. Organic samples will be oxidized by air during heating with only KOH mixed with the sample prior to the addition of the KNO3 . When only KOH is present the temperature can go to 450 °C, otherwise the temperature should be kept at ≤ 350 °C.
  3. Fuse the sample at an absolute maximum temperature of 390 °C in a silver crucible for 30 to 60 minutes using a muffle furnace. Temperature calibration is suggested.
  4. After cooling, dissolve the fuseate in DI water. The addition of any acid is not recommended for reasons explained above.
  5. Quantitatively transfer the solution to a plastic container. The final weight of the solution will depend upon the grams of potassium salts used for the fusion. If ICP-OES is the measurement tool, then a final solution weight of 100 grams is possible. ICP-MS will require a larger final weight due to ion shielding.  Corrosion resistant introduction systems are required.

For general information on sampling and sub-sampling see: https://www.inorganicventures.com/sample-preparation-guide/samples-containing-nickel