Conservation of the environment and precious metals
Air quality around the world has been substantially improved by the catalytic converter. Following countries like Germany, Europe started to fit catalytic converters on all petrol cars from 1993 and is now benefiting from air quality improvements in its cities. However, forecast growth in vehicle use means even lower levels of pollution from vehicles are still needed.
Satellite analysis of NO2 over Europe. Photo: European Space Agency/IUP Heidelberg
Conservation of precious metals is an important part of the life-cycle of catalysts. Precious metals of the platinum group have a unique combination of properties and are the natural choice for catalytic applications. The economic use of precious metals -platinum, palladium and rhodium - has always depended on responsible conservation of these rare and valuable materials. Platinum group metals are virtually indestructible and almost total recovery and reuse is thus possible.
A new industry has grown around the need to remove catalytic converters from 'end-of-life' vehicles, separate the catalytic element and recover the platinum, palladium and rhodium. Catalysts have been used for over 20 years and recovered metal now accounts for 20% of platinum and rhodium used in new autocatalysts. recycling rates reach about a third for palladium.
Working in partnership for cleaner air
There is a large range of gaseous and particulate emissions control options, based on the use of catalytic, adsorption and trapping technologies. Europe has a strong automotive emissions control industry well placed to help meet the challenge of future emissions regulations by working with its partners in the automotive industry. The emissions control industry has invested heavily in facilities, advanced analytical techniques, testing equipment and people. Advanced catalyst and trap systems, together with optimised engine management and emissions controls, will aid the achievement of the future low emissions standards deemed necessary to meet air quality goals.
Catalysts are developed and tested under the most demanding conditions.