How catalytic converter works – Detailed Explanation Guide

A catalytic converter is a vehicle part that most vehicle users do not believe to be that important. There are many of those who think that the vehicle’s performance does not really depend on this spare part. But this is a misconception since the exhaust gas converter performs an important function and is directly related to the operation of the engine. Also, the converter is one of the most expensive elements in the design of any machine.

And if we take a look at used and out-of-operation parts, it is, probably, the most valuable part at all. This opinion is confirmed by the information found on the website of the world’s most famous company, the purpose of which is buying catalytic converters –

In this article, we will discuss how the exhaust gas converter works and why it is so highly valued in the aftermarket.

Catalytic converter design

A catalytic converter is an important component of the exhaust system. As a rule, the part is located under the bottom of the vehicle (immediately after the intake pipe) or in the engine compartment (after the exhaust manifold).

The catalytic converter consists of three parts:

  • external casing made of stainless steel;
  • thermal insulation layer;
  • inner unit.

The latter element has a complex design. It is made in the form of a ceramic cylinder (occasionally there are parts that are made of metal) with many longitudinal channels. Due to their visual similarity, they are often referred to as honeycombs.

Manufacturers apply a thin layer of precious metals of the platinum group to the surface of the channels. When exhaust gases get into contact with these substances, chemical reactions begin under the influence of temperatures in the range of 300-800 ℃. As a result, the exhaust is purified.

The relevant design feature makes it possible to significantly increase the contact area that the exhaust gases have with the surface of the catalytic converter and to increase the efficiency of their purification.

What is valuable in an out-of-service catalytic converter?

The price of an out-of-service converter depends on the volume of precious metals used as catalyst substances. Cases in which the converter fails due to complete burnout of these materials are very rare.

Buyers are interested in the following rare earth metals:

  • Platinum;
  • palladium;
  • rhodium.

These elements are priced well above gold. These components can be extracted in special factories with modern equipment, and then reused.

The main function of the catalytic converter

The catalytic converter is a kind of filter. It is designed to purify exhaust gases and reduce the burden on the environment.

The most dangerous products of internal combustion engines are:

  • carbon monoxide;
  • nitrogen oxide;
  • hydrocarbon.

Through the chemical reactions in the catalytic converter, these substances are converted into harmless nitrogen and water vapor, as well as into relatively harmless carbon dioxide. If a dummy sensor is installed instead of a converter, the vehicle will not meet the declared environmental standards and will not be able to pass the technical check.

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