Over the last four years, Mazda has been working in secret on a nano-particle, ceramic based catalytic converter. This is a technology that will eventually replace the catalytic converter that has been used since the dawn of the smog laws. The new nano-driven catalytic converter offers a 70-90% reduction in the amount of the precious metals used to create a typical catalytic converter. Auto manufacturers consume a large amount of the worlds platinum, rhodium and palladium, so this could have a large impact on the market price of those metals.
The core idea of the technology is that ceramic nano-particles are place on the catalytic converter honeycomb. These particles have platinum, rhodium and palladium embedded into them. Due to the particles being spherical in shape, this increases the total surface area available for the catalyst to function. Not much else is known about the technology that Mazda has developed to create these nano-based catalytic converters, but they assure everyone that they can produce them so that the catalysts are still effective at reducing toxic emissions while saving money on build costs. Look for them on their upcoming vehicles in 2009 and 2010.