The Secret Behind Precious Metal Recycling in the Auto Industry

As vehicle sales continue to grow globally, the number of cars reaching the end of their journey also increases thus making the automotive industry a big player in platinum-group metals (PGM), which include palladium, platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium, recycling.

The vehicle's catalyst is one of the largest users of PGM resources, using the equivalent of 51 percent of the world's demand in 2010, as indicated by the International Platinum Group Metals association. But when the vehicle is scrapped, the precious metal contained in the car's catalytic converter can be recycled and incorporated into new catalysts to increase overall cost-efficiency.

Pictured above is the decanning process of a spent automotive catalyst. Pictured above is the decanning process of a spent automotive catalyst.

Since there are very few countries where PGM's are found naturally, it is no surprise that recycling these precious metals has become a business imperative. The PGM recycling industry grew in the last decade and is likely to continue this growth into the next, due to the increasing value of PGMs and an expansion of technologies dependent on their physical properties.

According to Innovative Research and Products, Inc., the global market for PGM recycling is expected to experience about 8.2 percent growth, up from $6 billion in 2013 to nearly $9 billion by 2018.

As a leading global manufacturer of precious metals products and services and the world's leading supplier of catalysts, BASF provides "full loop" metal management services -from raw metal supply and scrap reclamation to financial risk management and is committed to growing its position in the PGM recycling market.

Serving as both supplier and recycler, BASF can offer catalyst solutions for global OEMs in a cost-efficient manner. Its unique capability is that it can leverage not only its innovative catalyst technology but also its applications in engineering and manufacturing, such as recycling PGM, to meet OEM demand. Beyond the cost savings opportunities, using the recycled material as a supplementary source as opposed to always mining also helps reduce a company's carbon footprint.

Serving as both supplier and recycler, BASF can offer catalyst solutions for global OEMs in a cost-efficient manner.

"Our goal is to optimize our production efficiencies to process material at a faster rate, as well as recover higher amounts of PGMs for our customers," said David Freidinger, BASF's Vice President of Precious Metals Recycling and Refining.  "We are able to leverage our extensive knowledge in the chemistry and catalyst industry and build upon it by making investments and improvements to our manufacturing infrastructure for automotive catalyst recycling."

BASF currently has three state-of-the-art recycling facilities used for the recovery of PGMs from automotive precious metal bearing waste materials located in Seneca, S.C., Lincoln Park, Mich. and Cinderford, UK. Looking forward, the Middle East and Asia are also key growth areas based on the continuous economic expansion in those regions.

To learn more about BASF's precious metal recycling at the Cinderford, U.K facility, check out this video:

"BASF is dedicated to providing customers with a radically improved method to access, leverage, protect and manage the compelling value of PGMs," said Freidinger.