With the expansion of car production in developing countries, precious metals used for catalyst are supposed to be in short supply in the future. It a serious issue for every automaker to reduce the production cost of environment-responsive cars. Daihatsu Motor developed a catalyst technology that does not need rhodium jointly with Osaka University. An emission purification catalyst needs platinum and palladium in addition to rhodium. A material that can replace rhodium has never been found. The road to realize a catalyst totally free from precious metals has been opened, the research group told.
The company built a trial product using the molecular architecture figured out theoretically by Osaka University Professor Hideaki Kasai. The new catalyst uses an oxidative product of copper in place of rhodium. In the experiment, it confirmed that the new catalyst exhibited the same degree of emission purification ability as the existing rhodium-containing catalyst. It filed an application for patent. The research group will improve the durability of the new product to put it into practical use. The cost of precious metals is supposed to be several tens of thousand yen per car. The competition to reduce the cost associated with rare and precious metals is growing harder worldwide.