General Article

What You Need To Know About a Catalytic Converter

November 22, 2021

Catalytic Converter

Burning gasoline in vehicles releases carbon emissions that are collectively the single biggest contributor to global warming. However, vehicle engines used to be even more polluting than they are now, spewing even more poisonous gases into the atmosphere. Thanks to the catalytic converter, some of those gases are neutralized and the air is relatively cleaner than it would be otherwise.

What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?

A catalytic converter is a chamber that connects to the exhaust system. It has two pipes, one that collects emissions from the engine and one that releases them via the tailpipe. Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides are all harmful gases collected inside the catalytic converter. Inside, a chemical reaction takes place that splits up molecules to form less harmful compounds. Thus, nitrogen oxides convert back to pure nitrogen, hydrocarbons become harmless water vapor, and carbon monoxide, which is lethally poisonous, is converted into carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment but does not pose an immediate threat to your health. Like all car parts, the converters eventually outlive their usefulness, at which point you can call scrap catalytic converter buyers after having a replacement installed.

When Was the Catalytic Converter Invented?

The first person to patent a catalytic converter for a gasoline-powered engine was a mechanical engineer from France named Eugene Houdry. He received his patent in the mid-1950s. However, catalytic converters themselves had existed since the end of the previous century.

When Did Catalytic Converters Become Standard on Vehicles?

Catalytic converters became standard on gas-powered vehicles in the United States in response to the National Emissions Standards Act in 1965. This was an amendment to the previous Clean Air Act of 1963, which applied to a number of industries in a collective effort to reduce air pollution.

Catalytic converters do help to reduce emissions that pollute the air. However, they do not get rid of them entirely.