WARREN, MI - More than half of the 1,300 patents filed by General Motors in 2009 are green innovations, illustrating the company's shifting emphasis in its research and development efforts.

"The move toward electrification is requiring us to reinvent the DNA of the automobile, requiring massive amounts of innovation," said Alan Taub, vice president of GM global research and development. "There's almost no component on the vehicle that is not being reinvented. As a result, our green patent portfolio is helping us achieve world-class technological breakthroughs in the energy and environmental space."

A study of the patent activity of the top 15 global automakers released by the Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc firm Ocean Tomo LLC praised GM's leadership in the development of green technologies.  

"Green automotive technologies are the building blocks for creating and improving alternative power plants and increasing fuel efficiency," said James E. Malackowski, CEO of Ocean Tomo LLC.

Among the most notable patents was the development of a new catalyst material for the purification of exhaust from diesel or other lean-burning engines. Traditional catalysts use platinum, a precious metal subject to wide price variations. But a team of GM researchers discovered the material perovskite can provide performance equal to platinum at a much lower cost. This innovation could help to reduce the cost of diesel and other lean-burning engine technology in the future, while also keeping them safe for the environment.