Opportunities for Replacing Base Metals with Platinum Group Metals

2 Submissions
42 Views
$15,000 USD
Due:  4th Jun 2024

Challenge overview

OVERVIEW

Johnson Matthey (JM), the Seeker for this Wazoku Crowd Challenge, is searching for new applications for platinum group metals (PGMs) to replace or displace base metals. PGMs like platinum, rhodium, and palladium are unique as catalysts and typically outperform their base metal alternatives like copper, nickel, and cobalt. They also benefit from well-established and sufficient sources of supply, and mature circularity with high recycling rates.

As part of the energy transition, the PGMs are seeing a shift in demand creating availability for new uses, compared to some base metals which are facing growth in demand and supply shortfalls. Despite their higher up-front cost, less of these metals are needed to catalyze processes, making them excellent replacements.

JM is researching and investing in finding new applications for PGMs, and this Challenge offers a guaranteed award pool of $15,000 to solution(s) which provide novel and beneficial use cases.

JM is open to proposals where platinum group metals would be an effective, economical (in value or tonnage), and environmentally beneficial replacement to base metals, particularly in sustainable technologies and JM’s established markets.

By taking part in this Prize Challenge you are granting Johnson Matthey a right to use your submitted information, however JM must determine award winners within 45 days from the start of evaluation, otherwise JM loses this right.

This Prize Challenge requires a written proposal to be submitted. There will be a guaranteed award pool of $15,000, with at least one award of $5,000 or larger and no award being smaller than $2,500. Award distribution will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of the proposals. There is no assignment of IP Rights with this challenge.

WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $1,000 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.

Wazoku welcomes WIN Scouts and referred partners to become active members of Wazoku Innovation Networks (WIN).

In this Prize Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own.
  • Submit third-party information that they have the right to use and further, the authority to convey to the Seeker this right with the right to use and develop derivative works.
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on June 4, 2024.

- Login or register your interest to start solving and scouting

 

ABOUT THE SEEKER & ELIGIBILITY
 

Our vision is for a world that’s cleaner and healthier; today and for future generations. As a global leader in sustainable technologies, we apply our cutting edge science, creating solutions with our customers that make a real difference to the world around us. We have annual sales of over £4.2 billion and an annual operating profit of over £539 million with a gross R&D spend of £190m.

Please note: Solvers residing in the countries of Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Central African Republic, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Venezuela, and Yemen are prohibited from receiving awards for this Challenge.

The employees of Johnson Matthey, as well as their spouses or partners and their relatives up to the fourth degree, may submit ideas but are not eligible for awards in this Challenge.

WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Background

Across the world and in many industries, base metals like copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), and cobalt (Co) serve vital functions as advanced materials and catalysts. Their relatively-low cost and strong material properties mean they have been widely used, to the exclusion of more effective (but more expensive) platinum group metals (PGMs) like rhodium (Rh), palladium (Pd), and platinum (Pt).

As part of the move to net zero, these base metals will increasingly be in demand for electrification, batteries, and the crucial energy transition. Worldwide demand for these metals is already leading to supply stress, and replacing them in some of their existing uses with PGMs could be a more effective solution.

To date, PGMs have a long history in automotive catalysts, particularly in catalytic converters, cleaning up the tailpipe emissions from cars, vans, and lorries across the globe. The high demand in this application along with their higher cost has meant that – in other industries and applications – PGMs have often been avoided, substituted, or excluded from use.

However, PGMs have physical and chemical properties unique among transition metals and often far less material (in amount or blend) is required to catalyze a reaction than their base metal alternatives. PGMs are also among the most recycled materials ever, with established, economical, and relatively easy recycling routes at end of life. Products containing base metals, like nickel and cobalt, often contain insufficient value to justify the cost and effort to recycle at the end of life, which results in a lower recovery rate than PGMs. Even if base metals are recycled, the recovered metal cannot be used as fresh catalyst and is only suitable for a lower specification duty.

The combination of the unique properties of PGMs with their greater availability, alongside the greater demand for base metals elsewhere, may open up opportunities where PGMs can substitute base metals. This can offer greater results (for instance, palladium has excellent electrical conductivity and is more durable than copper, therefore Pd coating can enhance applications), greater circularity and sustainability (improved recycling and recovery – even up to 96%), and greater economic value (for instance, 0.1gram of palladium could catalyze a reaction that takes several grams of Nickel).

 

The Challenge

JM is looking for detailed and specific use cases where platinum group metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium could replace or displace base metals, particularly in sustainable technologies and JM target markets of the hydrogen economy, emissions control, and chemical catalysis. Solvers who can provide proof of concept information about their replacement or substitution beyond the use case would be given extra consideration in award distribution.

Solvers are asked to describe the technical placement and opportunity of these materials in as much detail as possible, with particular focus about the PGM’s ‘right to win’: why it would outperform the incumbent base metal.

The main PGMs to consider would be the three previously stated, however placements for ruthenium (Ru), iridium (Ir), and osmium (Os) would also be of interest. Proposals to this Challenge could also include novel materials within their application of platinum group metals: alloying PGMs to enhance properties or layering the PGM among other material support layers to achieve the desired outcomes. This happens in electronics and catalyst applications, where the PGM is placed only where necessary for catalysis, corrosion protection, and other purposes. Please note in your submission (where possible) if the PGM use must be enhanced or altered by inclusion of another material, metal, or process.

Any replacement examples should demonstrate why it would result in an enhanced market use of a PGM. Solvers should walk JM through their replacement use case for greater consideration when deciding award distribution.

For instance, as a suggested format, consider detailing: the current base metal’s placement and function in an industry/vertical/technology; its market size and landscape; why the base metal has met material requirements; and the value (either in tonnage, performance, or monetary value) that PGM replacement could unlock.

JM is open to innovative ideas and submissions considering your replacement suggestions of a base metal by a PGM. For instance, PGMs may be used in blends, alloys, or as a smaller part of larger materials. JM is very open to creative thinking for PGM applications across the markets we work in.

When considering the cost impacts of your replacements, JM stresses to Solvers that it should be based on a lifecycle assessment of the PGM. Palladium may have a higher up-front cost than nickel, but if it can be used in lower quantities to catalyze an increased number of reactions at a higher rate and be more recovered much more effectively at end of catalyst life, its value may outperform the base metal. This, when combined with the potential greater availability of platinum group metals in the coming years, means Solvers should detail costs where possible but also consider the unlocked value too.

To that end, if you can suggest a potential replacement for a base metal by a PGM but are not sure about the cost implications, please submit to the Challenge and JM staff could be in touch for further discussions.

 

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS

Johnson Matthey is primarily interested in solutions that consider the following requirements:

  1. Enhanced market use of a platinum group metal (PGM) – your proposed platinum group metal replacement of a base metal must be technically feasible, achievable, and with the PGM’s properties advantageously matching and exceeding its replaced material.
  2. Applications in markets aligned to sustainable technologies – JM’s work in the green economy means that sustainable technological and industrial uses for its platinum group metals will be favored in evaluation. The recyclability and recovery of PGMs and alignment to net zero within your solution is of critical importance in this Challenge.
  3. Demonstrated ‘right to win’ for the platinum group metal replacement over base metal currently used – detail how the chosen PGM offers benefits over what it replaces (material properties, material recyclability/thrifting, product performance or lifetime, enhanced selectivity/yield, greater sustainability in operating conditions, improved circularity) that will justify their use despite a potentially higher up-front cost.
  4. Specificity of use case – explain the current landscape/market size of the use of your base metal incumbent, demonstrate the benefits that your chosen platinum group metal has over the base metal, and be specific in the potential application and value of the PGM for the best chance of award.

Additionally, your submission could meet the following nice-to-have criteria:

  1. Application aligns to JM’s core markets - if your suggested use of platinum group metals is both sustainable and within the hydrogen economy, emission control, or chemical catalysis markets, this would be given greater consideration.
  2. Potential large market size – either in tonnage or value unlocked by your proposed substitute use of platinum group metals. Across several markets, there is an opportunity to use 100s of tonnes of palladium, rhodium, and platinum. JM is welcome to proposals that deliver greater placement volume of PGMs or those that deliver value with lower placement volume of the materials.

The proposed novel approaches should provide JM with "freedom to practice”, there should be no patents or patent applications, which would prevent the use of the proposed solution in commercial applications.

Things to Avoid:

JM is not interested in the use of platinum group metals within drugs or therapeutics themselves, though their use as the catalysts to make them would be acceptable.

JM is not interested in applications for the other precious metals, i.e. silver and gold, but solely the platinum group metals (Pt, Pd, Rh, Ir, Ru and Os).

In this Challenge, use of PGMS as single-use commodities – for instance, PGM inclusion in bulk agrochemicals for soil – are of less interest to JM and are unlikely to be awarded. This use of PGMs can be effective, but loses the circularity and sustainability benefits that these materials offer over base metal .

 

Confidential Information Guidance: During the submission process, you will have the option to let Johnson Matthey know (yes or no) if you have further relevant information, consisting of IP rights that may be of interest to JM, that you are only prepared to disclose if JM proposes an acceptable award offer.

Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 2-6 are invited.

This Prize Challenge has the following features:
 

1. There will be a guaranteed award of $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500.

2. The award distribution will be determined after theoretical evaluation of the proposals by JM.

3. By taking part in this Prize Challenge you are granting Johnson Matthey a right to use your submitted information, however JM must determine the award winners within 45 days from the start of evaluation, otherwise JM loses this right. You will receive notification.

4. Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third-party information that they have the right to use and further, the authority to convey to the Seeker this right with the right to use and develop derivative works
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use.

5. WIN Scouts are invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $1,000 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.

6. Johnson Matthey may also issue “Honorable Mention” recognitions for notable submissions that are not selected for monetary awards.

 

YOUR SUBMISSION

Please login and register your interest, to complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and can include:

  1. Participation type – you will first be asked to inform us how you are participating in this challenge, as a Solver (Individual) or Solver (Organization) or WIN Scout – (submission uses an alternative form).
  2. Solution Level - the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your solution, TRL1-3 ideation, TRL4-6 proof of concept, TRL7-9 production ready.
  3. Problem & Opportunity - highlight the innovation in your approach to the Problem, its point of difference, and the specific advantages/benefits this brings (up to 500 words).
  4. Solution Overview - detail the features of your solution and how they address the SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS (500 words, there is space to add more in the summary field, and attach supporting data, diagrams, etc).
  5. Do you have further relevant information you could disclose, consisting of IP rights you would only grant the Seeker subject to an acceptable award offer?
  6. Solution Feasibility – Supporting Information and Rationale, such as references and precedents, that will help JM evaluate and validate the feasibility of the solution (up to 500 words).
  7. Experience - Expertise, use cases and skills you or your organization have in relation to your proposed solution.  (up to 500 words).
  8. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  9. Timeline, capability and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time and cost (up to 500 words).
  10. Online References - provide links to any publications, articles or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).

Wazoku encourages the use by Solvers of AI approaches to help develop their submissions, though any produced solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on June 4, 2024.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, Johnson Matthey will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s) according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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