Platinum group metals (PGMs) are used rather than consumed - their high recyclability means they can be re-used many times, reducing their impact on the environment.
PGMs are the six-member family of elements which include platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. PGMs are an excellent raw material, catalyst and manufacturing ingredient due to their unique chemical and physical properties.
PGMs form the often-invisible heart of many everyday items in modern society. They are used in the manufacture of hard disks, mobile phones and aircraft turbines, in anti-cancer drugs and dental implants, in industrial catalysts and ceramic glazes, and in many more products.
Platinum gauzes are used in nitrous oxide (N2O) abatement programmes – annual N2O emissions account for a large portion of all greenhouse gasses. Innovative secondary catalysts, using small amounts of PGMs, reduce N2O emissions during fertiliser production by up to 90%.
A major focus for current PGM innovation and development stems from the global imperative to decarbonise, reduce emissions and create a ‘hydrogen revolution’. It is now estimated that green hydrogen could supply up to 25% of the world’s energy needs and become a US$10-trillion market by 2050.
The Group participates in AP Ventures, a private equity vehicle supporting Implats’ market development activities into key evolving end-uses for PGMs, including hydrogen, fuel cell mobility and energy storage.
Implats is proud to be at the forefront of technology developments related to the hydrogen economy via our research and development of fuel cells. Fuel cells are gaining attention for a range of potential applications, from combined heat and power, to distributed power generation, to transport and portable power for mobile appliances.
By far the largest use of PGMs today is in automobile catalytic converters (autocatalysts), which are pollution-control devices fitted to cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other mobile machinery. Catalytic converters reduce outdoor air pollution in cities and rural areas.
PGMs are the active ingredient in many pharmaceuticals and a vital element in modern surgical technologies and medical componentry. Platinum has become the favoured metal in many medical applications because it is biocompatible and durable, with excellent electrical conductivity and radiopacity.
Platinum is rare and pure, with a natural white colour. The modern history of platinum only begins in the 18th century, but archaeologists have found objects dating from as far back as 1200 BC, decorated with gold-platinum hieroglyphics. Today, platinum is the pre-eminent metal for bridal jewellery in many countries and promotional campaigns are focused on developing the market for self-purchase and fashion jewellery in Asia in particular.