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Nornickel Develops Palladium Solutions to Address Environmental Challenges

BANGKOK: Mining and smelting company Nornickel is developing innovative palladium solutions to address key climate challenges in the Asia Pacific region.

The solutions include improving water treatment for over 2 billion people, facilitating the implementation of green energy projects, reducing harmful emissions and optimising the transition to biodegradable packaging.

For this, Nornickel has allocated a total of US$100 million to be used for research and development of palladium applications by the end of 2030.

Currently, water that has been disinfected with chlorine poses significant environmental risks in its production, transport and storage. A palladium alloy catalyst combined with electrolysis technology allows the disinfectant to be produced close to the water supply, reducing environmental risks.

“Palladium is a critical mineral for the future, especially for hydrogen and solar energy projects.

“Palladium-based catalysts in the hydrogen energy sector show efficiency gains at every stage of the production chain, from the extraction of hydrogen from water through electrolysis, to its transport and even in the fuel cell itself. In the solar energy industry, palladium chalcogenide can be used to make highly efficient photovoltaic (PV) cells,” said Norilsk Nickel Palladium Centre’s Head Dmity Izotov.

The key raw material for the production of biodegradable packaging is currently glycolic acid, which is derived from formaldehyde, a dangerous carcinogen. The new palladium-based catalyst eliminates the need for carcinogenic formaldehyde and provides better raw material yields.

Palladium technology not only helps manufacturers meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations but also reduces production costs and improves safety.

“In the era of global digitalisation, technologies such as neural networks, big data analysis and machine learning play an important role in accelerating processes. Nornickel is actively using digital technologies to model and predict the structures and properties of materials.

“Tight international cooperation in the development of digital technologies is needed at all levels and is crucial to accelerate the adoption of green technologies and achieve sustainable development goals. The Palladium Technology Centre is poised to act as a pilot site for testing new digital tools,” said Dmitry.

Palladium is widely recognised around the world for its significant role in resolving environmental challenges. It is already being actively used in the automotive industry to develop emission control systems.

Palladium is highly catalytic, hydrogen-permeable and when combined with other elements, has good optical properties. This gives palladium enormous potential to improve the performance of green technologies and make them cheaper to implement.

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