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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: August 7th 2012


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:: Breakthrough Green Technology now Available to Effectively Recover Platinum Group Metals from Vehicle Catalysts

New technology has revolutionized the world auto recycling industry by allowing virtually any business to recover and extract platinum group metals (PGM) from scrap catalytic converters economically with minimal environmental impact.

There hasn't been an inexpensive, clean and fast recovery system until now. This innovative technology provides a green solution to processing some of the estimated 15 metric tons of scrap catalytic converters from 25 million vehicles each year that reach their service life and enters the waste stream throughout the world. The market value of the platinum group metals that can be retrieved annually is estimated at $2.12 billion. It is believed that Australia's share of this market is around $42 million (300 metric tons of converters from 500,000 end-of-life vehicles). [Reference: End-Of-Life Report, Argonne National Laboratory 2010.]

Platinum group metals are a key component in catalytic converters used in cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and generators to effectively reduce the toxins and harmful polluting gasses by up to 98%. The high price of platinum group metals encourages recycling from scrap material. Recycling of PGMs is important because it provides a supplementary source to the mining of these metals and reduces the impact of the industry on the environment.

Scrap converters are not currently processed in Australia as they are collected, crushed and then shipped to Europe or South Africa for this purpose that typically uses a high carbon footprint process.

Privately operated, Australian based company, Wintermute Metals Proprietary Limited, has researched, developed and patented the Wintermute Process - a method that efficiently and safely recovers 99% platinum and palladium and 90% rhodium from scrap catalytic converters. The recovery process has significantly less impact on the environment than existing recovery methods. The Wintermute Process is a hydrometallurgical (solution) technique that operates at normal atmospheric pressure, does not use concentrated acids or cyanide, there is no hazardous effluent and no intense power requirement that are needed for some other processes.

Stephen Robins, Managing Director and Founder of Wintermute Metals commented, "After nearly 5 years of research and development, we have established a pilot production facility in Western Australia that can be scaled up to process a maximum capacity of 132 metric tons of scrap vehicle catalysts that should generate nearly $20 million in revenue annually. We now need $400,000 of seed capital funding to scale up the plant, further protect the intellectual property, acquire an initial supply of catalysts to process and start generating revenue. We also welcome interests from recyclers, refiners and mining companies outside of Australia who would like to license this scalable technology and leverage their existing supply of catalysts to quickly and easily create a new, substantial and sustainable revenue stream."




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