How Do Catalytic Converters Work?

Boosted Catalytic Converter Prices at RRCats

how do catalytic converters workA Catalytic Converter is one of the most valuable parts of scrap within your vehicle, however, it is one of the most important for the environment too. The catalytic converter is valuable for the precious metals that make up the inside of it, however, those valuable metals have a large part of the filtering less harmful emissions that come from your car.

It’s All About Science, Yeah, Science!

So a catalytic converter has a good name, considering it works as a catalyst for the harmful fumes and emissions your car’s engine produces. While the fumes and pollution that come from your car are still harmful like, Carbon Dioxide is much better than the gases like Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbons.

When your engine is running, it produces fumes that are passed through the exhaust system and through to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter, which contains a honeycomb structure of precious metals and ceramic block, help filters the fumes into less-harmful chemicals.

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The Culprits – Harmful Gases Produced

The harmful fumes created by engines are:
  • Hydrocarbons – This is in the form of unburned gasoline
  • Carbon Monoxide – Created by the combustion of gasoline
  • Nitrogen Oxide – Produce when the engine’s heat forces nitrogen in the air to combine with oxygen.
science behind catalytic convertersOnce the fumes begin to go through the catalytic converter they hit the first set of honeycomb that is made up from palladium and platinum, which convert the hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. They are then filtered through the ceramic and placed through another honeycomb of precious metals. This one is made up of palladium and rhodium, which converts the nitrogen oxide, a large producer of smog.

The Winners – Converted Gases Exhausted

The harmful chemicals are converted into the following chemicals after the process:

  • Carbon Dioxide & Water – Converted from the Hydrocarbons
  • Carbon Dioxide – Converted from Carbon Monoxide, while it is still harmful, it is much less harmful than Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen & Oxygen – Converted from the Nitrogen Oxide, so they are separated back into the air

Those fumes are then passed through the honeycomb and ceramic that makes up the catalytic converter and are passed through the exhaust system with the less harmful fumes. See the video below on how an exhaust system works with various chemicals.



Boosted Catalytic Converter Prices at RRCats

What Happens When They Breakdown?

When catalytic converters no longer work, they are difficult to diagnose by a mechanic without taking the whole unit off the car. Some telltale signs that your catalytic converter is failing is your car won’t go faster when you press the gas pedal or you see a large drop off in your gas mileage. If your catalytic converter breaks down and it is time to replace it, you can bring your old one to a scrap yard and usually get some good money for them.

scrapping catalytic converters

What is a Catalytic Converter? – How Stuff Works
How do I know if my Catalytic Converter has failed? – How Stuff Works

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