Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:00 pm Post subject: Gold plated exhausts
|Gold plated exhausts
Gold plating a car exhaust sounds like an extravagance worthy only of billionaires but it could become an everyday occurrence if a partnership between the World Gold Council and Nanostellar Technologies reaches commercial fruition.
The marketing body for the gold industry announced on Monday it had entered a long-term strategic partnership with the US nanoscience technology company to enable the introduction of gold into the diesel catalytic converter market.
Catalytic converters have become a driver for platinum and palladium demand, accounting for more than half of annual consumption.
Johnson Matthey, the metals company, estimates that a record 4.24m troy ounces of platinum will be used in vehicle exhaust systems this year.
So any development involving gold in emission-lowering equipment could open up a significant source of demand for bullion.
Platinum prices have more than tripled since early 2002, largely because of demand from the automotive sector for lower carbon emissions.
Over that same period, the gap between platinum and gold prices has soared from about $200 a troy ounce to $655 on Monday. So the potential attraction of gold is clear.
Gold has been known as an effective catalyst for carbon monoxide since the 1980s but previous efforts to incorporate it into converters have encountered technical problems.
It was found to be compromised by the high heat and humidity in diesel exhausts. The sulphur in diesel fuel rendered converters containing gold less effective.
Pankaj Dhingra, chief executive of Nanostellar, says his company has been able to stabilise gold in autocatalysts by using it as an alloy.
Mr Dhingra says that Nanostellar’s alloy process provides sulphur resistance similar to that of commercial catalysts in the US and western Europe.
Nanostellar has tested this gold alloy material on low sulphur fuel with 50 parts per million sulphur and claims its inclusion enables diesel engine makers to reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by up to 40 per cent more than pure platinum catalysts.
Catalytic converters are expected to perform consistently over an expected 10-year life of a vehicle.
To simulate end-of-life conditions, Nanostellar catalysts underwent 100 hours of accelerated aging at high temperatures and then their emissions were compared with a platinum-only catalyst.
James Burton, the chief executive of the World Gold Council, has high hopes for the partnership.
He said: “The autocatalyst market is a large and important one for platinum producers and we are excited to be entering this new arena.
“We are also pleased to see gold play a role in an application with undoubted environmental benefits.”