What Is Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is a device that converts pollutants and toxic gases in exhaust gas of an internal combustion engine into less-toxic products.
Catalytic converters are usually used on petrol or diesel engines. A catalytic converter is located on the underside of a vehicle and looks like a large rounded metal box with two pipes coming out of it.
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How does a catalytic converter works
A catalytic converter houses catalysts that change toxic compounds from an engine’s emissions into less toxic gases before they are released into the air.
A catalyst is a substance that accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being used up in the reaction.
The catalyst converter has two pipes we shall call the "input" and "output". The input pipe is connected to the engine of a vehicle and carries the exhaust gases into the catalytic converter. Inside the catalytic converter the exhaust gases are blown over the catalyst, which breaks down the pollutants into less-harmful gases that are then released through the output pipe.
What happens inside a catalytic converter
The catalysts inside a catalytic converter are typically made from platinum or a similar metal, rhodium or palladium, or a similar metal. The exhaust gases pass through a ceramic honeycomb structure lined with the catalytic metals.
There are two main types of catalysts that can be found inside the converter:
- Reduction catalysts that help reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by breaking down the oxides of nitrogen into harmless nitrogen and oxygen gases.
- Oxidation catalysts that oxidises toxic carbon monoxide into less toxic carbon dioxide.
Types of Catalytic Converters
There are basically two primary kinds of catalytic converters:
- Two-way catalytic converter. This type of catalytic converter is outdated. It contains only oxidation catalysts, which oxidises carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide and unburnt hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water.
- Three-way catalytic converter. This is the morden type. It works the same as the two-way converter with the addition of a reduction catalyst that breaks down nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen gases.