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Shining for the environment

A new technology using gold in the place of platinum and palladium, is said to be 40% more efficient in bringing down automobile emission of noxious gases, reports BS Srinivasalu Reddy.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2007 22:23 IST
BS Srinivasalu Reddy

Gold is set to be as precious for the environment as it is as an ornament for a woman. A new technology, using gold in the place of platinum and palladium, is said to be 40 per cent more efficient in bringing down automobile emission of noxious gases.

World Gold Council (WGC), a driver of global demand for the precious metal, has invested in the US-based Nanostellar Inc, which developed a technology for developing a catalyst using gold as one of the ingredients, in a bid to facilitate commercialization of the technology.

“Joining Nanostellar’s existing equity investors, which include 3i, Khosla Ventures and Monitor Ventures, among others, WGC will also provide the company with significant marketing and business development support, designed to increase uptake of NS Gold among the global vehicle manufacturing community,” said WGC in a release. However, WGC did not disclose exact investment details.

“The inclusion of gold enables manufacturers of light and heavy-duty diesel engines to reduce noxious emissions by as much as 40 per cent more than existing pure platinum catalysts, enabling significant savings for automotive manufacturers,” WGC added.

WGC’s initiative is expected to boost industrial demand for gold, which was 458 tonnes in 2006. Though the greater potential of gold as a catalyst as against platinum and palladium was known for years, nobody had the commercially viable technology for doing so.

According to estimates, during 2007, 119 tonnes of platinum is expected to be used in automotive catalysts – an increase of 2.3 per cent from 2006. At current platinum prices of approximately $1,400-$1,450 per ounce (3,563 ounces equals to one tonne), the total value of platinum use in auto catalysts during 2007 is expected to exceed $6 billion.