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Nanotechnology as an Approach To Reducing Dependence on Platinum Catalysts – with Interviews from QSI Staff
The Nucleus, January 2006
By Martin Freier

Pre-Columbian Indians were aware of platinum’s value as early as 1557, but it was the extravagant French King Louis XV who recognized it as a metal fit for a king. Not surprisingly, platinum diamond rings have become a favorite symbol of committed love for prospective brides. Ultimately, it is the chemists who gained an appreciation for platinum’s unique physical and chemical properties, such as wear and tarnish resistance, resistance to chemical attack, excellent high temperature resistance, stable electrical properties, catalytic properties, and others. Those properties have made this element practically indispensable for chemists. In fact, so vital is platinum today that the global market for platinum group metal catalysts is between ten and twelve billion US dollars per year. The market is growing, while the sources of platinum are both unstable and drying up.

As a result, unless we innovate, we may be facing a serious platinum scarcity in the not-too-distant future. The use of platinum needs to be substantially reduced before there is an impact on chemical output and the global economy. That means chemists must develop alternatives. New alloys created by the nanotechnology industry may offer effective solutions.

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