One of the arguments that critics of hydrogen autos launch is that the cost of platinum for fuel cells is too high. The critics not only state that the high cost of platinum means fuel cells are too expensive, but that going to a fuel cell based automotive economy would lead to a world wide shortage of platinum.
But, what the critics fail to state is that we are already using platinum inside our internal combustion engine vehicles inside the catalytic convertors. Many catalytic convertors also use the precious metals of palladium and rhodium as well, which are also common in some models of fuel cells.
What this means is that as more gasoline-powered vehicles are replaced by fuel cell vehicles, the out-of-commission catalytic convertors can be used as a source of platinum and other precious metals that can be recycled for the building of additional fuel cells. Right now, platinum in catalytic convertors is being recycled for the building of additional catalytic convertors.
The recycling of catalytic convertors for fuel cells will most likely be a short term process as well. Many fuel cell manufacturers employing nano-technology are using less platinum than ever before. Other manufacturers are using non-precious metals or even non-metal alternatives to platinum as the catalysts in the fuel cells, bringing down prices significantly.
Expect this trend to continue in the quest for every cheaper fuel cell technology. But, in the shorter term, one solution for supplying platinum for your fuel cell auto is right inside your gasoline-powered auto. The passing of the torch from one energy paradigm to the next may just be titled, “Who Killed the Catalytic Convertor?”