Diesel emission and gold? Now does that sound like chalk and cheese? The latest news however, is that greener catalytic converters that contain gold as one of three metals will be used in diesel engines in order to control pollution. To date, a platinum-palladium blend was being used but with the addition of gold, it could mean better performance and a reduction in costs. The company that introduced this catalyst is a leader in nano particle materials and is called Nanostellar.
Will this new technology see a lot more gold being sold? Let’s look at the background. It was this very same company that introduced platinum-palladium catalysts to try and reduce the pollution that traditional diesel caused. When it was introduced in 2006, everyone was overjoyed that it would be around 30% better when it came to performance than the existing platinum catalysts. Well, now with the addition of gold to that blend, the performance is expected to be even 20% higher without costs increasing as gold prices are much less than platinum.
These catalysts have to be fitted onto every one of the two million heavy duty vehicles as well as the fourteen million light duty vehicles that are manufactured every year around the world. They are called DOCs or diesel oxidation catalysts and they are required by law so that the stringent emissions controls can be adhered to. Thus far, platinum in the catalyst meant that it was so expensive. The addition of palladium helped a bit as costs came down and now, with gold being a part of this blend, the amount of platinum can be significantly reduced. Gold, when it is used in the catalyst tends to increase the hydrocarbon oxidation activity thus reducing toxic emissions by as much as 40% when compared with the pure platinum catalytic converters and 20% when compared with the platinum-palladium ones.
What’s more, the proportions of each metal can be played around with to make it suit specific performance targets in engines. This could also be done when the price of one metal shoots up and costs need to be stabilized. Would many companies switch to this tri-metal option? It’s more than possible considering that there would be a great saving in price with performance getting better. From pure platinum to adding palladium which is one-fourth the cost to adding gold as well which is half the cost. With these additions, the performance of the catalysts goes up by around 20%. What’s there not to like in this new offering?
So if this is a new opportunity for gold sales, how much of it would be sold? Well, platinum demand for catalyst use is 250 tons so the sale of gold is also going to be a figure somewhere in that vicinity. The World Gold Council is no doubt very excited at the prospect of sales coming from a new and unexpected quarter – especially as potential demand could be huge. If that isn’t opening up a great new stream for gold, what is? Well, at Gold Kings, we keep a keen watch on all things that pertain to gold.