There's platinum hidden in your car

Who'd think that thieves would steal catalytic converters

Guess how much platinum there is in a Volkswagen Passat diesel? If you said $238 worth, you'd be right.

Nanostellar is trying to reduce it. The company, which focuses on car emissions, has produced a platinum alloy that can substitute for the pure material inside catalytic converters, according to CEO Pankaj Dhingra. Recently, it began production of 250 kilograms a week.

Platinum sprinkled in the catalytic converter captures gases like carbon monoxide and turns them into less dangerous compounds, such as carbon dioxide. But platinum costs a lot. Nanostellar's particles can cut around $56 to $117 out of the platinum budget and cut down on emissions.

Crooks have also been stealing catalytic converters for the platinum lately. The stuff sells for $1,100 an ounce, after all. Nanostellar is trying to land deals with automakers, but its materials will end up in aftermarket converters in the relatively near future.

(Photo: Nanostellar)

About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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