Hello carbuyer.lk community. Today, we're talking about the catalytic converter in your vehicle.
A catalytic converter is designed to reduce the harmful emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust.
We all know gasoline is made up of hydrocarbons. If everything goes perfectly, all of the hydrogens and all of the carbons combine with all of the oxygen to give us carbon dioxide and water.No big whoops.
But the combustion inside an engine isn't perfect. Some of the reactions are incomplete. And because of the heat in the engine, we create some molecules that don't normally occur.
So one thing we get is carbon monoxide. It’s bad. It gets rid of the ozone layer. And it's also poisonous.
The heat of the combustion means that some of the nitrogen, because it's 78% of the air bonds with oxygen and forms oxides of nitrogen. And those oxides are bad for your health, and also results to acid rains.
And lastly, if some fuel isn't burnt, those harmful hydrocarbons get shot out the tailpipe too.
So, Catalytic converters are designed to reduce all three of these emissions, And the first one was patented by French chemical engineer, Eugene Houdry in 1950.
Basically, a catalyst is something that helps a reaction to take place. The things inside the catalytic converter act as a catalyst to help convert your emissions to make them safer. Catalytic converter is made out of ceramic. So, it doesn't react with anything, but it gets super hot, and it stays super hot so the reactions can happen.
If you're going for an emissions test, make sure your catalytic converter's hot.
Next, there's rare metals, platinum, palladium, and rhodium that react with the emissions. They're each worth about $30 a gram, and there's between three and seven grams of them in a catalytic converter. So that's why people steal them.
First is a reduction catalyst. Platinum and rhodium pull oxygen off the nitrogen atoms so the nitrogen gets shot out as N2 molecule just the way it came in the first place.
The second stage is an oxidation catalyst. Platinum and palladium use the oxygen molecules in the exhaust, and the freed-up oxygen from the first stage in two ways.
First, it helps bind them to the carbon monoxide to get CO2, the same stuff you breathe out. And second, this stage converter will oxidize any unburnt hydrocarbons as they pass through.
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Some cars have a pre cat closer to the engine. It's still a catalytic converter, but because it's so close, it gets hotter quicker and it does a super great job at converting, but because it gets hotter, it can wear out faster.
The oxygen sensor before the cat lets your car know if there's enough oxygen burning the fuel in the engine. If too many hydrocarbons come through, a computer will adjust to mix accordingly. Another oxygen sensor after the cat let's your engine know if it's pulling in enough oxygen to complete the reaction in the converter. It's all super high tech and it happens super fast.
Before we answer that, let's cut it open.
Inside, you can see the honeycomb, with nice clear channels. These chambers are designed to have the most surface area possible to make the reactions to happen. They're also designed to affect the exhaust flow as minimally as possible.
Some brain trust cut these honeycombs out to open up the airflow, so that when they get inspected, it looks like they still got one. But cutting these out means the air is suddenly sitting in a big hollow chamber, instead of shooting straight down a streamlined pipe. Cars are an intricate system of computers and tuning, and unless you're skilled at this type of thing, just ripping out a part of your exhaust, that can seriously damage your car.
Modern catalytic converters are designed to be efficient. There's even performance catalytic converters that have been shown to help improve horsepower.
The main thing is that catalytic converters work. American emission pollutants have dropped an average of over 70%. That's a big deal. And when you look at pictures of any major city, before and after we started using them, it's equally as easy to argue that the catalytic converter is one of the most important advancements in automotive history.
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