The alchemy


Certain compounds can mimic the chemical signatures of some elements. Plainly speaking, tungsten carbide could be the platinum used in catalytic converter in automobiles. It is cheaper than platinum and more easily available. The amount of energy required to remove electrons from a molecule of tungsten carbide is the same as that required for platinum. Scientists also found such similarities across the periodic table: titanium monoxide mimics nickel; zirconium monoxide mimics palladium.


Down to Earth, January 2010