Catalytic converters are used to reduce pollutants from exhaust. These devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are generally placed between the engine and muffler. They need a high amount of heat to function, so they are placed as close to the engine as possible. They also have a high value, with some converters being sold for as much as $1,500. Unfortunately, catalytic converters are also a common target for thieves, as they contain precious metals.
Car engines produce carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. These pollutants are also known to cause cardiovascular problems and other health issues. Catalytic converters reduce these harmful gases by rearrangement of nitrogen-oxygen compounds. Nitrous oxide is a speed-enhancing compound that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.
When you notice a decrease in conversion efficiency, you may need to replace your converter. A faulty converter can make your car ineffective at passing emissions tests. However, the underlying cause of the failure is usually somewhere upstream. Some potential culprits are an overheated engine, an incorrect fuel mixture, or a faulty EGR system. In addition, some failures are due to improper assembly techniques.
Most cars today use catalytic converters to reduce emissions. These devices are located in the exhaust system and function by converting harmful emissions into less harmful ones. This process typically involves a chemical reaction, with the end result being less harmful gases traveling out the car’s tailpipe. There are two types of catalysts: reduction and oxidation. Reduction catalysts reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by breaking it down into nitrogen and oxygen gases. Oxidation catalysts change carbon monoxide into oxygen.
Catalytic converters have been around for several decades. The first catalytic converters were made of metal cylinders that were coated with platinum, iridium, or palladium. These converters were used on early motor cars in France to combat smog. They were also used in industrial chimneys to reduce harmful exhaust emissions.
Catalytic converters can be lean or rich. The lean version has more oxygen than the rich one. The lean one favors the oxidation of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, while the rich one favors the reduction of nitrogen oxides. These gases are then reduced to oxygen and elemental nitrogen.
Catalytic converters are sensitive components that have to be well-maintained in order to function properly. They are susceptible to extreme heat, and extreme temperatures can destroy the catalyst’s matting or melt its substrate coatings, causing the unit to fail. Additionally, the temperature can be elevated by engine leaks in the exhaust system.
During the development of the catalyst, engineers sought to improve its efficiency. They developed a process that makes it easier to recycle exhaust gas and improve the quality of the air. During the 1970s, the process became popular with cars. This technology helped make cars comply with emissions standards.