Approximately 11 percent of all gold produced is used in industry. Because of its inherent properties, gold is used in the medical, electronics, automotive, defense and aerospace industries. It is also increasingly used as a catalyst in many industrial processes.
Gold has many medical applications. Because it does not react with other substances it is said to have excellent biocompatibility. Gold was used in ancient Egypt to fill decayed teeth, a practice that has continued to the present day.
Hearing aids and implants in the inner ear are coated with gold to prevent allergic reaction and to resist bacterial infection. Gold is also used in the wires for pacemakers and in stents inserted to combat arterial disease. Acupuncture needles are often made of gold. Gold is also being used in clinical trials to treat cancer, malaria, and HIV infection.
Because it is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, gold is used extensively in the electronics industries in items such as printed circuits and in transistors. The circuitry of computers, calculators, televisions, telephones, and fire detectors are often plated with gold. Gold is also used in cars within the anti-lock brake and airbag deployment systems.
Because it reflects up to 98 percent of infrared radiation, gold has applications in the defense and aerospace industries as well. It is used in the windshields of jets, the visors of astronauts’ helmets, and on satellites and other space vehicles. Gold thread is also incorporated in astronauts’ spacesuits to protect them from the heat of the sun.
The reflective properties of gold have also been exploited in large office buildings with glass facades. Tiny quantities of gold are applied to window glass to reflect most of the sun’s rays, which makes them more energy efficient during the summer. The reflective window glazing aid in controlling solar heat gain by reducing the transmission of solar radiation. This application also serves to reduce the amount of light and glare that enters through the glass as well.
Gold has many uses as a catalyst in industrial processes. For example, gold is used as a catalyst in the production of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), an important industrial chemical used as a feedstock for paints and adhesives.
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