* New push focuses on NOx and particulates, as well as CO2
* Platinum market set for surplus as automotive demand slips
* Euro car registrations vs platinum: reut.rs/2oEN33j
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, May 15 With London mayor Sadiq Khan and
his Parisian counterpart Anne Hidalgo cracking down on vehicle
emissions this spring in the global push for clean air, it
should be a boom time for platinum which is used in catalytic
But it is not likely to translate into higher demand for the
metal. A greater focus on cutting emissions of smog-forming
nitrogen oxide (NOx) from diesel car exhausts is driving a
switch to treatment systems that use less platinum.
London and Paris are part of the C40 Cities initiative,
which links cities working to improve air quality. It aims to
produce a register of the most-polluting cars by the end of 2017
to encourage buyers to choose greener vehicles.
In the past the effort to cut emissions in Europe has
focused largely on reducing carbon dioxide, but the C40 pact
also specifically highlights NOx output. It coincides with the
launch of real driving emissions (RDE) tests later this year,
which will also tighten the focus on NOx.
"The bigger challenge for us is not keeping the typical
emissions under the limit, the challenge is in terms of NOx and
particulate emissions," Volkswagen's technology spokesman said.
"There isn't a link between platinum and palladium
(consumption) and those emissions," he said.
Basic catalytic converters use platinum and palladium to
produce a chemical reaction that processes polluting gases like
carbon monoxide to render them safe.
Other after-treatment systems are needed to cut NOx, chiefly
using lean NOx trap (LNT) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
systems. Real-world testing will push more manufacturers towards
using SCR, according to leading catalyst manufacturer Johnson
Matthey. Those use some 20 percent less platinum than LNT.
NOx was put in the spotlight by the 2015 Volkswagen
emissions scandal, which showed real-world emissions
of NOx from diesel engines were much higher than thought.
PSA Group, which owns the Peugeot and Citroen
brands, says it has implemented SCR-based systems across the
board. "SCR technology is recognised as the most effective
system for reducing NOx emissions," it said.
As more carmakers follow suit, demand for the metal is
likely to fall this year, Johnson Matthey says, pushing platinum
into its first market surplus in six years, reaching 300,000
ounces from a 202,000 ounces deficit last year.
That is even before factoring in the impact of the gradual
dwindling of diesel vehicle market share on platinum demand.
Platinum is much more heavily used in diesel autocatalysts
favoured in the European car market, with heavier loadings of
palladium seen in gasoline catalysts.
Diesel's lower CO2 emissions mean it is still a popular
choice for carmakers with carbon dioxide targets to hit.
Given technological advances, clean diesels are already
available and will become more common when real-world testing is
introduced in September, industry associations say.
The Association of French Automotive Manufacturers (CCFA),
which counts Renault among its members, said it
welcomed the C40 Cities initiative as a chance to replace more
polluting models with the next generation of vehicles. However,
these will likely carry less platinum-intensive catalyst
Better technology may help protect diesel market share, but
it is still predicted to fall, with both petrol and the
fast-growing electric and hybrid vehicles filling the gap.
"The drive to low and zero emissions is hurting platinum
through lower diesel use, which doesn't have a lot of hybrid
vehicles -- they're mostly gasoline -- and electric vehicles,"
GFMS analyst Ross Strachan said.
"Clean means getting rid of diesel," he said.
By 2021, diesel will likely account for just 40 percent of
the car market in the European Union, IHS Markit predicts.
(Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by Veronica Brown and Edmund