A Major Milestone for Johnson Matthey’s Pennsylvania Clean Air Manufacturing Plant

Symbolising trade and investment between the United Kingdom and the surrounding South Pennsylvania region, look no further than Johnson Matthey’s Devon manufacturing plant, celebrating its 50th birthday.  

A leader in sustainable technology solutions, the roots of Johnson Matthey’s Devon plant, in Wayne PA, stretch back to 1974, which has remained key to the company’s largest Clean Air business ever since.  

The story charts back to the 1950s, when the California Institute of Technology identified vehicle exhaust emissions as a significant contributor to smog – a form of air pollution. Legislation progressively tightened emission limits, culminating in the groundbreaking Clean Air Act of 1970 which mandated substantial reductions.  

JM’s scientists set to work prototyping honeycomb catalysts in Europe, before patenting an autocatalyst, with a proof of concept on a 1500cc Chrysler Avenger, sold in the US as a Plymouth Cricket. Viable production followed, through combining a conveyor belt and waterfall washcoat solution, with the Devon doors opening in March 1974 – an identical replica of its Royston sibling, situated in Hertfordshire, England, UK.  

Today, the plant is home to a team of c.500 workers, and continues to serve as an integral part of the community and local commerce. The manufacturing site is a unionized facility with a rich history and partnership with the United Steelworkers. To date, the site has produced and shipped over 500 million catalysts, which has resulted in preventing millions of metric tons of harmful pollutants from entering the atmosphere and cleaning the air.  

Quote from Zachery Taormina, Plant Manager – Clean Air North America: “The products we make really make a difference in the world and that’s something that everyone in Devon takes pride in.  While it feels good to make a difference in our work, our people are what truly makes JM such a special place and organization to work for. There’s a collective sense of purpose and we’re committed to working as a team to proudly serve our customers with world-class catalyst technologies to serve both the automotive and stationary sources with emission solutions!” 

And while 50 years is a proud milestone, the focus is firmly on the future, with an onsite technology center continuing to innovate and progress the next generation of emissions solutions, and invest in the novel use of technology in new applications and markets – a big opportunity. The US and the Greater Philadelphia region will continue to be a focused growth area for Johnson Matthey, which has a history in the area dating back to 1909. 

Quote from Krista Johnson, US President: “The dedication and commitment that brought us to this moment is absolutely worthy of celebration.  The men and women who built and sustained Devon have our thanks.  It is on their shoulders that we can see the bright future for this plant and for JM USA; a future in which we continue to provide the products, technology, collaboration, and partnership that will bring sustainable energy and goods to the world far into the future.  Here’s to the next 50 years!” 

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