BRUSSELS, April 2 - Belgian metals and specialty materials group Umicore said on Friday it had developed a new technology that allowed palladium to be used instead of platinum in diesel emission control systems.
Palladium is roughly three times cheaper than platinum.
"Umicore is ready to introduce a new diesel oxidation catalyst technology which will at this stage allow the replacement of approximately one quarter of current platinum loadings by palladium," the metals group said in a statement.
A spokesman for Umicore said the technology could theoretically go to market in 2005.
Analyst Bernard Hanssens from Bank Degroof believe automobile manufacturers will welcome this development, as it will increase their choice of catalyst materials for diesel emission control systems. Especially given platinum prices reaching historically high levels.
The technology was designed for passenger cars and would help make catalytically activated diesel particulate filters more popular, Umicore said.
Umicore became the world leader for catalysts for diesel cars and light duty vehicles after it bought OM Group's precious metals division last year.
The company in August introduced new catalyst technology for diesel particulate filters that further cut harmful emissions.
Umicore has been moving away from its mining roots and traditional zinc and copper business to recycling precious materials and advanced materials such as germanium substrates used in the solar cells on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers.
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