This mystery scrapping powder may look like dust to most people, but we know what it really is! It is platinum powder from catalytic converters. The inside of a catalytic converter comprises several honeycombs to filter out the harmful toxins from your vehicle. Below, we have our recent explanation of how catalytic converters work.
Can You Sell Catalytic Converter Dust?
Unfortunately, we will never recommend you try to remove the honeycombs from the catalytic converter to try to harvest the raw materials inside. The material often looks the same, but the value can sway wildly due to the nature of aftermarket vs OEM Cats. If the material is then ground down into dust it is very easy for people to try and slip this under the radar. For that reason, most yards won’t even accept it.
What is a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is one of your vehicle’s most valuable scrap parts. However, it is also one of the most important for the environment. The catalytic converter is valuable due to the precious metals that make up inside of it. However, those valuable metals play a large part in filtering less harmful emissions from your car.
It’s All About Science!
So, a catalytic converter has a good name, considering it works as a catalyst for the harmful fumes and emissions produced by your car’s engine. While the fumes and pollution from your vehicle, like carbon dioxide, are still dangerous, they are much better than gases like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
When your engine is running, it produces fumes that are passed through the exhaust system and the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter, which contains a honeycomb structure of precious metals and ceramic blocks, helps filter the fumes into less harmful chemicals.
The Culprits – Harmful Gases Produced
The harmful fumes created by the engines are
- Hydrocarbons – This is in the form of unburned gasoline
- Carbon Monoxide – Created by the combustion of gasoline
- Nitrogen Oxide – Produce when the heat of the engine forces nitrogen in the air to combine with oxygen.
Once the fumes go through the catalytic converter, they hit the first set of honeycombs made up of 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 comprises palladium and rhodium, which converts nitrogen oxide, a large smog producer.
The Winners – Converted Gases Exhausted
The harmful chemicals are converted into the following chemicals after the process:
- Carbon Dioxide and Water – Converted from Hydrocarbons
- Carbon Dioxide – Converted from carbon monoxide, while still harmful, it is much less dangerous than carbon monoxide.
- Nitrogen & Oxygen – Converted from the Nitrogen Oxide, they are separated back into the air.
Those fumes are 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.
What Happens When They Breakdown?
When catalytic converters no longer work, they are challenging to diagnose by a mechanic without taking the whole unit off the car. Some telltale signs that your catalytic converter is failing are that your car won’t go faster when you press the gas pedal or see a significant 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.
Not all scrap yards purchase them because they are difficult to classify for the correct price. The range of prices can be from $5 up to $200 per catalytic converter. Find your local scrap yard through the iScrap App and ask if they accept catalytic converters. If not, you may ask if they know any auto body shops that do.