Fewer fumes vs. fewer cars The road ahead for PGMs

Mar 19, 2009 | 04:37 AM |

Despite the slowdown in the automotive sector, the race across the globe to implement more-stringent emissions regulations has created an opportunity to increase the use of platinum group metals (PGMs) in catalytic converters. The outcome in the United States, however, could be very different than in Europe.

Auto catalysts typically use a ceramic or stainless steel honeycombed substrate with catalysts such as platinum, palladium and rhodium to remove toxic emissions from an internal combustion engine. Gasoline auto catalysts mostly utilize palladium in combination with rhodium, while diesel catalysts largely use platinum. This means that in Europe, where diesel cars are more prevalent, more platinum is used, while palladium is the metal of choice in the United States, where gasoline is the standard fuel.

Virtually all forecasts see a softening in vehicle demand in 2009, but auto catalyst producers hold an important trump card, according to David Jollie, precious metals market analyst and publications manager at catalytic converter producer Johnson Matthey Plc. In addition to improving the environment, new emissions standards should lead to the use of more industrial precious metals in the automotive industry. "(New emissions standards) will go a long way toward cushioning some of the softness in the (auto catalyst) market," he said in a telephone interview from the company's London office.....





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