New innovations that reduce costs are always welcome, and here’s one example. Panasonic has revealed a new diesel exhaust catalyst that will use 80% less platinum as compared to standard catalysts.

Found in your catalytic converter, the catalyst cleans up exhaust fumes before they leave your car, so that it contains less harmful emissions. Platinum has always been a major component in producing catalysts, and precious metal prices have been on the up. Apparently, the amount of platinum used in a standard catalytic converter can cost from $250 to $300.

Panasonic’s new catalyst will use an alkali-metal compound to coat the filter that traps and burns particulate matter in the tailpipe. This new component also consumes less energy as it treats the fumes at a temperature that is 20% lower than conventional catalysts. Its lifespan is comparable to that of current catalysts.

This new creation is Panasonic Ecology Systems’ first step into the automotive sector and the company has shipped samples to about 10 carmakers and suppliers in Japan and Europe. The company aims to bring the catalyst into mass production in 2012 and reach global sales of ¥20 billion ($220.6 million) by 2018.