Around nine per cent of the world demand for gold is for technical applications. The electronics industry accounts for the majority of this, where gold’s conductivity and resistance to corrosion make it the material of choice for manufacturers of high-specification components. In addition, the metal’s excellent biocompatibility means that it continues to be used in dentistry.
Beyond electronics and dentistry, gold is used across a variety of high-technology industries, in complex and difficult environments, including the space industry and in fuel cells. Gold’s catalytic properties are also beginning to create demand both within the automotive sector, as the metal has now been proven to be a commercially viable alternative to other materials in catalytic converters, and within the chemical industry.
A range of healthcare and catalytic applications for gold is currently being developed as the field of nanotechnology expands. While this demand is still small in tonnage terms, the growing number of patents being published relating to gold nanotechnology suggests many new applications will be developed in the coming years.