December 19 2007.

Nippon Steel Materials Co. has announced the development of a motorcycle emissions catalyst that can operate using 70% less platinum, rhodium and palladium on average than existing catalysts with no sacrifice in performance.

Given the high cost of these precious metals, there is growing demand for emissions catalysts that use less of them. The Nippon Steel Corp. subsidiary said its new catalyst clears the Euro 3 regulation for motorcycle emissions in Europe. It has already begun shipping samples to motorcycle manufacturers and may begin volume production within the next 12 months.

The new catalyst has a compound crystal structure comprising three kinds of iron oxides with crystal grains measuring in the tens of nanometers. Grains of the rare metals are buried in among these crystals, and changes in their electron states boost the catalytic performance of the material to clean motorcycle exhaust. For motorcycles, the catalyst needs to contain only 2-3 grams or so of the three precious metals per liter of engine displacement.

Nippon Steel Materials hopes to see its new emissions catalyst adopted for the 2009 and 2010 models of motorcycles. In the meantime, it will also develop a version for cars.

Source: The Nikkei