Aether Catalyst Solutions
Developing a Low-Cost Catalyst to Reduce Automotive Costs
Aether Catalyst Solutions Inc. (CSE:ATHR) is a materials science company that has developed a low-cost, high-performance, three-way catalyst that doesn’t contain any of the costly precious metals currently utilized in automotive catalytic converters such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
A catalytic converter is a legally mandated emission control device that converts toxic by-products from an internal combustion engine into less toxic substances through a chemical catalyzation process. By reducing the cost of a critical emission reduction technology, Aether Catalyst hopes to not only save the auto industry billions of dollars, but also extend emissions control capability to the extraordinarily large number of smaller engines that are in use every day, helping to reduce the overall amount of harmful emissions from all internal combustion engines.
The global catalytic converter market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1 percent from US$42.4 billion in 2018 to US$73.1 billion by 2025, according to Markets and Markets.
Despite the growth projected in the catalytic converter market, analysts including Markets and Markets have acknowledged the potential challenges presented by the fluctuations in precious metals prices, specifically platinum, palladium, and rhodium. The high cost of these materials could present a challenge to manufacturers, increasing the incentives for developing alternatives. “In response to financial constraints, we expect to see an intensification of efforts to reduce the cost of emissions control systems,” said Johnson Matthey in its PGM Market Report for May 2020. Autocatalyst demand accounted for 2,876,000 ounces of platinum, 9,635,000 ounces of palladium and 1,008,000 ounces of rhodium in 2019 according to Johnson Matthey. According to estimates, the commodity cost of these platinum-group metals is approximately US$21 billion.
Aether Catalyst’s converter technology does not include any platinum, palladium, or rhodium, allowing for a potential reduction of 90 percent of material costs involved in the current technology. The company has been in ongoing discussions with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive industry regarding the specifications and characteristics required by its catalyst, and found them to be forthcoming and encouraging, reflecting the consensus that reducing the cost of emissions control is becoming more and more important to the industry.
Aether Catalyst’s fourth-generation emission reduction technology is applicable to all gasoline internal combustion engines including cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, as well as many other small engines. The company has developed a wash-coated catalyst that is easily scalable, allowing for a low-cost coating process that can be applied to existing substrates utilized in incumbent catalytic converters. As regulations regarding fuel emissions continue to become more stringent and ubiquitous around the world, cost of the catalyst becomes a larger issue for the OEMs. Aether is hopeful it can develop its low-cost solution to not only save the industry money, but also to enable the further adoption of catalytic converter technology, which will have a significant effect on global emissions.
The technology is also applicable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline powered small motors that include generator sets, leaf blowers and lawn mowers. Currently, emissions from these small motors are lessened to the extent possible by simple factory tuning of the motors that allow them to meet minimal requirements. Thus, these devices are still responsible for considerable volumes of urban air pollution, causing significant amounts of smog and greenhouse gas emissions.
Over time, the general awareness of urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions has become a major political talking point, and voters are demanding improvements be made. In discussions with a small motor OEM, they say it now appears likely that small motor emissions will be tightened soon, creating a legislated demand for Aether’s technology.
CARB (California Air Resource Board): Operating a best-selling commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving the best-selling 2017 passenger car, a Toyota Camry, about 300 miles – approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Aether will receive advisory services and a non-repayable contribution of up to $250,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). This will support a research and development project and enable Aether to significantly speed up the time to get its technology to market by allowing additional capital and human resources to be dedicated to the project.
Aether Catalyst’s Company Highlights
- Catalytic converter market expected to grow from US$42.4 billion in 2018 to US$73.1 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 8.1 percent
- Aether’s catalyst is made without the use of platinum, palladium, or rhodium
- Aether’s catalyst can be produced at approximately 90 percent cost savings to incumbent catalytic converters
- Aether’s catalyst utilizes simple wash coating methods that are scalable to the high volume and low-cost coating processes currently utilized with incumbent PGM catalysts
- Aether has received considerable funding and support from government sources – almost $500,000 over the last three years in non-dilutive funding
- Aether was nominated by SDTC (Sustainable Development Technology Canada) for the 2018 Global Cleantech 100