Blogs

How a Catalytic Converter Works

Your car’s catalytic converter is one of the most important emissions control devices. It’s a can-shaped part that looks kind of like a muffler and is usually located under the vehicle between the engine and the tailpipe. The vehicle’s exhaust gas passes through the converter where it is exposed to a metal catalyst. The catalyst promotes a chemical reaction that changes some of the harmful pollutants in exhaust gas into less harmful pollutants.

How Does a Catalytic Converter Work?

A catalytic converter helps your car run cleaner by converting harmful exhaust gases into less harmful gases before they exit the tailpipe. Exhaust gases are produced when the engine burns gasoline and oil. These gases contain carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are poisonous, and nitrogen oxides contribute to smog. All three are released into the atmosphere when you drive your car.

The catalytic converter contains a chemical catalyst made of platinum and palladium. These metals cause a chemical reaction that transforms carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water vapor. The nitrogen oxides are also reduced during this process, but they’re not completely eliminated.

To work properly, the catalytic converter needs to reach a temperature of at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why it’s located close to the engine where it can get hot quickly. The hotter the converter, the more effective it is at cleaning up exhaust gases.

A catalytic converter is an important emissions control device in your vehicle that helps reduce harmful pollutants in exhaust gases before they exit the tailpipe. The converter contains a chemical catalyst made of platinum and palladium that causes a reaction that transforms carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Nitrogen oxides are also reduced during this process, though they’re not completely eliminated. To work properly, the converter needs to reach a temperature of at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit which is why it’s located close to the engine where it can get hot quickly.

Photo by Tatabrada from Getty Images via Canva Pro