The high and often volatile prices of platinum group metals (PGMs) has drawn many inventors and entrepreneurs to create technologies that reduce the need for PGMs in catalysts for the automotive, hydrocarbon processing and fuel cell industries. To assess which of these emerging catalyst developers stand to capitalize on this growing opportunity, Lux Research’s latest report ranks the field by technical value, business execution, and maturity and compares each company on the Lux Innovation Grid. Among the report’s key findings:
- Nanostellar and SDCmaterials occupy the Dominant quadrant. SDCmaterials and Nanostellar recently moved into the Lux Innovation Grid’s Dominant quadrant, as the two strongest developers in the automotive catalyst space. Both firms boast strong technical solutions as well as solid partnerships – BASF and Volvo for SDCmaterials and several undisclosed European automakers for Nanostellar.
- Headwaters Technology Innovation (HTI) retains High Potential, but may be stalled. HTI has lost momentum and missed a few milestones, but the firm can still claim commercial deployment of two catalyst products: a palladium catalyst that allows for simplified production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and an oil refining catalyst that increases gasoline yield during catalytic reforming. However, HTI’s recent lack of significant developments and a parent company whose revenues have nearly been cut in half over the past three years all raise concerns that the company may soon see an even sharper drop in standing.
- Once squarely in the Dominant quadrant, Catalytic Solutions may see trouble ahead. While Catalytic Solutions’ revenues are five times higher than any other company ranked in the report, they have dropped from $50.5 million in 2009 to $48.1 million in 2010. Meanwhile, net loss increased slightly, and the firm will likely be required to raise additional funds. The catalyst division also recently lost an automaker customer after its core technology failed to meet a required performance standard.