Is the platinum price threatened with a sharp decline in the future?

As with all commodities, the price of platinum always results primarily from the relationship between supply and demand. A high degree of volatility is therefore completely normal.

Now, however, the hitherto constantly rising demand for platinum is threatened by a real shock. A newly discovered process could soon ensure that platinum demand in industry is reduced by more than 90 percent. This would, of course, have a lasting effect on the platinum price.

Metal of the future, but less needed in the future

Until now, platinum has been unreservedly regarded as a precious metal of the future, because platinum is irreplaceable and of great importance, especially for industry. Platinum is irreplaceable in medical technology, in fuel and hydrogen technology, and especially in the automotive industry for the production of catalytic converters.

Because platinum is so important, especially for forward-looking and climate-friendly technologies, experts have predicted a bright future for the shimmering precious metal, at least so far.

But now the platinum price is threatened with long-term trouble by some researchers around Jesum Alves Fernandes from the University of Nottingham. The scientists have developed a process that can reduce the amount of platinum required for catalysts in particular by more than 90 percent in the future.

So platinum remains important to the industry, but the demand for platinum could drop dramatically with the new method.

A thin platinum layer reduces the need

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a process that allows individual atoms to be shot out of a block of platinum and deposited onto a substrate. The atoms are distributed over the entire surface of the substrate, forming an extremely thin platinum layer.

This method has been known for decades for other materials, such as nickel or cobalt, under the name of cathode sputtering or “sputtering” and has been used for a long time, especially in the semiconductor industry. The scientists have adapted the well-known method of “sputtering” to the processing of platinum.

A catalyst has already been produced in this way with a wafer-thin layer of platinum just one nanometer thick, which the researchers are using for photocatalytic hydrogen production.

Once the process is mature, application in industry could be rapid. Already today, there are various equipment manufacturers who already produce sputtering for the materials used so far.

Platinum demand could fall quickly

For 2021, experts estimate the mine production of platinum at about 6.23 million troy ounces. This means that production is expected to grow by around 25 percent this year. But the corona pandemic has caused demand for platinum to plummet.

However, if the pandemic is somewhat overcome and the supply chain difficulties are overcome, corresponding catch-up effects could quickly lead to increased demand and drive up the platinum price.

However, once the new process is ready for use by the industry, this would most certainly lead to a sharp drop in the price of platinum in the long term.




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