How Catalytic Converters Work

There are hundreds of millions vehicle on the road every day throughout the world and each one is a prevalent source of pollution. Especially in terms of larger cities and metro areas, the amount of air pollution is significantly higher than what you would find in rural areas.

Considering that there are far more populated cities than rural ones in the world, it is important that government implement clean air tools and laws to reduce the amount of toxic emissions created by vehicles which is where catalytic converters come into play.

In 1975, changes were made to the way that car engines were developed to ensure that they reduced the amount of toxic emissions in the air. The catalytic converter is used to help convert the harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions even before these pollutants leave the exhaust system. It is quite interesting how a simple catalytic converter has such a large impact on your vehicle.

Catalytic Converters Reduce What Emissions?

As previously mentioned, the job of the catalytic converters is to reduce the harmful emissions from vehicles and to transform them into less toxic counterparts. The three main toxins that these devices are created to reduce include:

Carbon Monoxide: A colorless and odorless poisonous gas to humans.

Hydrocarbons and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): The largest components of smog that are mostly created by unburned fuel.

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): NO and NO2 together are called NOx and are a significant contributor to acid rain and smog. They also cause irritation to the human mucus membranes.

When you begin delving further into the purpose of catalytic converters, there are 2 catalysts that work together to reduce emissions: reduction catalyst and the oxidation catalyst. Both of these are comprised of ceramic that is coated with metal. Generally the metal will be palladium, rhodium, or platinum.

The main purpose of using these components together is to create a particular structure that provides the most amount of surface area of the catalyst to the stream of the exhaust. Also, it is important for the manufacturers to try to minimize the amount of catalyst that is required as the materials are rather expensive.

In truth, the majority of newer vehicles are equipped with catalytic converters that are coated with gold mixed with other catalysts. The reason is gold is far less expensive and helps to increase the amount of oxidation. The more oxidation that the catalytic converter experiences will result in your vehicle producing far less toxic emissions.

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