Catalytic converter will be cheaper and cleaner

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Scientists have developed a catalytic converter which would be cheaper to manufacture and more efficient in controlling exhaust emissions, they announced yesterday. Existing converters used by vehicle manufacturers all use platinum and rhodium. The new design, developed at Dundee University, replaces these precious metals with a cheaper mixture of palladium and zinc.

The university has patented its development and is now in discussions with components manufacturers around the world after presenting their breakthrough to the Society of Automobile Engineers in Detroit. They are seeking to strike a deal with a manufacturer who would test the new design and ensure that it could perform for at least 100,000 miles.

The catalyst is the invention of Professor James Cairns of the university's department of applied physics and electronic and mechanical engineering, and Dr James Thomson, lecturer in the department of chemistry. They have been working on the project for the past 11 months, after stumbling on the basic premise almost by chance.