What Is a Catalytic Converter?

To reduce emissions, many motor vehicles have catalytic converters as part of their exhaust system. The catalytic converter uses a chemical process to turn toxic gases, produced by internal combustion engines, into harmless by-products. Catalytic converters were developed in the 1960s and became common in vehicles by the mid-1970s. Here is a description of how they are made, and how they convert gases.

1.       Components of a Catalytic Converter


Converters are made of a stainless steel body, inside of which are the catalysts, which are agents that speed up chemical reactions, are metals like platinum, rhodium, or palladium. The metals are layered onto ceramic beads that are packed into the body. The body also containsa cushioning mat that holds the beads in alignment and ensures that all the exhaust passes through the catalysts. The body also has a heat shield that moves the heat produced by the converter away from the undercarriage of the vehicle.

2.       Gases Produced by an Internal Combustion Engine


Nitrogen oxide forms when engine heat causes nitrogen in the air to bond with oxygen. Catalysts can break this down into nitrogen and oxygen, natural elements in the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide is created when gasoline is burned and is changed to carbon dioxide. Hydrocarbons are just unburned gasoline, and are turned into water and carbon dioxide. If these gases are not neutralized in exhaust, they become a part of ground level ozone in the environment, which damages vegetation creates smog, and respiratory problems. To learn more about catalytic converter replacement in San Diego, visit this website.


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