Nissan has developed a new catalyst for its gasoline-powered cars that requires only half the amount of precious metals that current designs call for. The catalyst or catalytic converter is a piece of the exhaust system filled with a mix of platinum, rhodium and palladium that captures harmful toxins in a car's exhaust such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons by triggering a chemical reaction.

Engineers at Nissan used new nanotechnology to prevent the gathering of the precious metals in the catalyst under high temperatures, which meant less of the expensive stuff was required to clean the exhaust.

Less metal means less cost, which means more savings for customers. Nissan will be sharing the technology with its French partner Renault and the first cars with the new system should be on the market by early '09. Hopefully this will also mean a reduction in the number of catalytic converters being stolen.

[Source: Reuters]