A new invention by Toyota could bring turmoil for the precious metal markets. Today, the world’s largest automaker (officially, until a few months ago, unofficially, to this day) announced “a new, smaller catalyst that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume,” as the company said in an emailed statement. The world’s precious metals markets may see this as a sell signal.
Toyota’s invention will lead to “cleaner exhaust gas with reduced usage of precious metals,” the company said. However, some of the largest demands for precious metals is not created by the jewelry we give to people we adore. “Platinum group metals sales are heavily influenced by the automotive industry,” wrote IBISWorld’s Precious Metals Production market research report.
(Source: Picture by Toyota)
Platinum, rhodium, palladium, and other precious metals do the dirty work in catalytic converters around the world to keep the air breathable. Those metals usually are washcoated on a ceramic substrate. In conventional catalytic converters, precious metals are wasted due to an unbalanced flow of exhaust gases. Toyota has developed a new type of ceramic substrate called FLAD that solves this problem, the company said.
The new substrate is out of the lab, and is being mass-produced. Initially, the precious-metal-saving catalytic converter will be used in Toyota’s hybrid Lexus LC 500h later this year.