Palladium's price has been surging because it is the key catalyst for gasoline engines and there is not enough of the stuff to meet demand. That may be about to change. Global chemical company BASF, partnering with Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum, has developed a catalyst that can substitute platinum for palladium without compromising emission standards.
Has the Holy Grail for platinum group metals (PGMs) been found?
Sibanye-Stillwater (Sibanye) announced on Tuesday 10 March that global chemicals group BASF had successfully developed and tested "an innovative Tri-Metal Catalyst technology that enables partial substitution of high-priced palladium with lower-priced platinum in light-duty gasoline vehicles without compromising emissions standards".
"Adoption of the Tri-Metal Catalyst can reduce catalytic converter costs for automakers and partially rebalance market demand for PGMs, thereby enhancing PGM market sustainability."
The research was conducted by BASF and funded by Sibanye and Impala Platinum (Implats). It could prove to be a game-changer because it has the potential to plug the deficits in palladium and rhodium which have sent their prices through the roof while boosting demand for platinum.
The reason for this state of affairs is fairly simple. Annual palladium production is slightly higher than that of platinum, but the demand...