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Posted: March 16, 2007
Nanotechnology will become driver for demand of gold and other precious metals
(Nanowerk News) World Gold Council industrial applications manager Dr Richard Holliday writes in the Rand Refinery 2006 Annual Report that many of the potential new applications for gold are based on the developing markets for nanotechnology.
The report states that nanoparticles of precious metals platinum and palladium are already used in significant quantities in automotive emission control
catalysts. The precious metals used in this application exist in the form of tiny nanoparticles within the catalyst (for both cost and technical reasons), yet total platinum and palladium demand generated through this application is still over 200 tonnes a year.
"What applications might generate new industrial demand for
gold? For a number of years gold, in the form of nanoparticles
(with palladium), has been used as a chemical processing
catalyst by companies such as Dow Chemicals and BP in the
large-scale production of vinyl acetate monomer. This is
an important industrial chemical used as a feedstock for
paints and adhesives and this application has generated at
least a few tonnes of gold demand since it was first used.
Now new applications for gold nanoparticle catalysts are being
explored in an array of new areas including air cleaning
(including the removal of smells and poisonous carbon
monoxide from rooms), pollution control, in fuel cells and
in the production of bulk chemicals. Interest in this type of
technology is not confined to the ‘blue sky’ academic research
laboratories around the world. Major international companies
like 3M, Johnson Matthey and BASF have all confirmed
an interest in developing commercial applications for
"Although gold nanoparticles are, by definition, tiny, significant quantities of particles are likely to be required in many of the potential commercial applications. Nanoparticles of precious metals such as platinum and palladium are already used in significant quantities in automotive emission-control catalysts," notes Holliday.
The report goes on to list water purification, air pollution control applications and new medical technologies will make use of gold nanoparticles. It states that these new nanotechnology based applications will provide the foundations for industrial gold demand in the longer term and which could have very significant positive environmental benefits and the potential to substantially enhance quality of life.