UPDATE - Umicore says develops platinum catalyst substitute
Friday April 2, 3:12 am ET
(Adds further details, analyst comment, share price)
BRUSSELS, April 2 (Reuters) - Belgian metals and specialty materials group Umicore (Brussels:ACUMt.BR - News) said on Friday it had developed a new technology that allowed palladium to be used instead of platinum in diesel emission control systems.
Palladium (XPD=) is roughly three times cheaper than platinum (XPT=).
"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 were upbeat.
"We believe this development will be welcomed by automobile manufacturers as it will increase their choice of catalyst materials for diesel emission control systems," Bank Degroof analyst Bernard Hanssens said, 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 (NYSE:OMG - News) 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 (News - Websites) Mars Exploration Rovers.
Shares in Umicore were 2.05 percent higher at 52.20 euros.
Hold on a second, regarding the palladium breakthrough, could this in fact be really good news for GLW? Nobody has commented on the broadening market this creates for diesel particulate filters. Any comments? Help me out here.
This is taken from the news release:
"We believe this development will be welcomed by automobile manufacturers as it will increase their choice of catalyst materials for diesel emission control systems," Bank Degroof analyst Bernard Hanssens said, 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.
I read an article several months back that projected an increasing market share for diesel powered cars. As I recall the writer felt that market share would increase IF the particulate emissions issue was addressed. I think the market for GLW's gear will reach far beyond trucks.
I�m not familiar with Umicore, so my knowledge of what they are doing is limited to what I can infer from the article you posted. It is not clear whether they actually make catalytic converters, or just supply catalysts as a material supplier to those who do make catalytic converters.
Separately, it is important to recognize that Corning�s products for control of pollution from diesel engines falls into two distinct groups. One group consists of ceramic substrates for catalytic converters. These substrates are then coated with catalysts (either reducing catalysts or oxidizing catalysts) and used in catalytic converters for gasoline and/or diesel engines. The other group consists of porous ceramic particulate filters, the item that has been getting a lot of press lately. This latter group is a mechanical filter that needs periodic replacement (like an oil filter) and thus, unlike a catalytic converter that should last the life of the vehicle, will provide an ongoing replacement market. Catalytic converters and particulate filters can, and probably will, be used on the same vehicles; their processes can be additive.
Assuming the Umicore technology is as significant as the article implies, the potential impact on Corning should depend upon who is applying Umicore�s technology, and whether they are applying it using Corning ceramic substrates. Without knowledge of the whole supply/manufacturing picture, it is hard to tell.
One possibility is that with the Umicore development it will become economical, due to replacement of platinum with palladium, to make oxidizing catalytic converters that can effectively oxidize the carbon particulate from diesel engines at a cost that is competitive with Corning�s particulate filter. IMHO, that is doubtful. At best, the catalytic converter might be competitive with the present value of the future cost of the replacement filters, but automakers would likely resist the movement of cost to the front end.
I recognize that this is not very definitive, as there are a lot of pieces of information missing. The best I can conclude is that it is likely to have little impact on Corning, but others may have a more informed analysis.
Someone posted this link the other day in response to one of my posts. I printed it out and read it on the way home. Just wondering if you're related to the author? For some strange reason I thought of you as I was reading he article. I wonder why?
Corning makes ceramic substrates which are then coated with precious metal catalysts and "canned" to make a catalytic converter. If Corning's material can be coated with palladium as well as platinum, it doesn't seem to me that this would have any effect on Corning.
((The new Corning DuraTrap�RC diesel particulate filter applies advanced design to enhance durability, while significantly reducing the amount of soot emitted by medium and heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks and buses.))
This innovation is just one of the many ways Corning is helping manufacturers produce cleaner-running vehicles today...and tomorrow.
**from the Corning website