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IPMI and Nornickel launch the Palladium Challenge

posted onOctober 21, 2021

The International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI),  the US-based premier association for the precious metals industry worldwide representing all segments of the industry,  has partnered with Russia’s Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), the world’s largest palladium producer, to launch the Palladium Challenge, a contest with a USD 350,000 prize fund. 

The Palladium Challenge is an initiative intended to inspire individuals, businesses and academic institutions to invent and design a sustainable use-case that features and increases the demand for palladium. The metal is known for its catalytic capabilities and unique physical properties, and while it is widely used in the automotive industry as an essential component of catalytic conversion, the Palladium Challenge seeks to broaden its applications and spark innovation. 

Anton Berlin, Nornickel Vice President, Sales and Distribution commented: "As the world's largest palladium producer, Nornickel plays a central role in development and driving demand for this metal. Moreover, as a company, we believe that palladium has huge potential beyond autocatalysts. We see high palladium demand in other global industries, including the green economy and decarbonisation.

There are many other areas where palladium could fulfil a critical function, and we are very excited to announce the launch of the challenge, which seeks to bring together scientists from all over the world. We encourage scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs worldwide to participate. We hope that this challenge will deliver outstanding research results." 

The Palladium Challenge will be judged by an independent panel of global experts who will review all submissions.  The panel’s decision will be based on the following key criteria:

1. The scientific novelty of the proposed project
2. Economic feasibility and sustainability of the project
3. Minimum annual palladium demand in thousands of troy ounces generated by the proposed application

The top three projects will receive global recognition and will be awarded monetary prizes  of 200,000, 100,000 and 50,000 US dollars on September 16, 2022 at the IPMI Annual Platinum Dinner in New York City.

Palladium applications in the hydrogen economy (including hydrogen storage and cleaning films, catalysts for electrolyzers and fuel cells, and hydrogen sensors), battery technologies (with palladium as a battery energy density booster), sensors, industrial catalysts or alloys are seen as the most promising areas of the research, 

The demand for the silvery-white metal weakened this year due to lower demand from the auto industry amid the ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage. The palladium market has also been hit by substitution effects from platinum, viewed as a cheaper perfect substitute used in the manufacturing of catalytic converters. Palladium is also used in electronics, chemical catalysts, dental and jewellery industries.

Nornickel, supplier of around 44% of the global palladium needs, cut its deficit estimate for the global market due to flooding at two of its mines. The Russian company currently expects a deficit of 0.2-million-0.3 million ounces in 2021 (from a previously forecast of 0.9-million ounces deficit) and 0.3-million ounces in 2022 (from a previously forecast of 0.7-million ounces deficit). 

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