PGMs are the unchallenged metals of future – by Roger Baxter ( – October 26, 2015)

Roger Baxter is CEO of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa.

[] – WHILE platinum and its other group metals grapple with current price weaknesses and market difficulties, it can be all-too easy to overlook the metals’ longer-term prospects in this world of rapid technological advance. In my view, platinum group metals (PGMs) are the unchallenged metals of the future.

Let’s start with their contribution to ‘greening’ the environment.

I am not going to comment on the fracas surrounding the Volkswagen’s issue. What I would like to remind everyone of is that – on average and because of PGM catalytic converters – emissions from 100 cars sold in 2015 are the equivalent of one car sold in the 1960s.

PGM vehicle emission catalysts are so successful that they convert 99% of combustion engine pollutants such as HC, CO, NOx and particulates to harmless outputs.

Another example is the fact that real life tests of NOx emissions in the new Euro VI buses in London are fitted with platinum catalysts that are only 5% of those of their predecessor vehicles. And in the European chemicals industry, fertilizer production has seen nitrous oxide emissions cut by 90% with the simple retro-fitting of PGM-based catalysts to existing plants.

And, as we move to into the future and a clean hydrogen-powered economy, PGMs, and platinum in particular, will be in the cores of stationary and mobile fuel cells.

The Chamber [of Mines of South Africa] itself has installed a 100kW baseload platinum fuel cell which has been running well since the December 18.

Fuel cell electric vehicles now have comparable ranges to conventional vehicles (>600 kms) and only a three minute filling time (compares to 100km range for a pure electric vehicle and 3-9 hour charging time for the batteries) and which emits no pollutants during driving.

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