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15th July 2022

Superadmin

What does a car's catalytic converter mean, and how does it work?

A catalytic converter is a very important component in motor vehicles. It is a device that catalyses a redox reaction in the exhaust gas to convert it into a less toxic emission. The gases that are produced by the internal combustion engine are very harmful to the environment, and a catalytic converter in a car is an effective exhaust system component that converts harmful gases like carbon monoxide and uncombusted hydrocarbons into by-products like water and carbon dioxide. 

What Functions does Catalytic Converter serve?

Our cars produce gaseous emissions that are very detrimental to the environment. Nowadays, the exhaust systems in cars are comprehensive and efficient enough to manage emissions. A catalytic converter serves the following functions

  • It essentially makes the gases emitted by the internal exhaust system of a car safe for the environment. 

  • This device is essential for enabling car manufacturers to adhere to the National Emissions standard act. 

  • It mitigates the toll that car emissions have on the environment, and consequently, a catalytic converter safeguards the health and well-being of people in a more holistic sense. 

  • The oxygen sensor, which is placed near the catalytic converter, is instrumental in determining the level of oxygen found in the exhaust gases of the vehicle. 

Let us try to figure out the anatomy of this device to understand its functioning in a better way. 


Read More: Hybrid Cars

What is inside a Catalytic Converter 

What is a catalytic converter?A catalytic converter is typically placed on the underside of a car. It looks like a large metal box which has two metal pipes and a catalyst to clean up the emissions. The catalyst inside a catalytic converter is made up of platinum, rhodium, palladium or any other similar metal. The gases produced by the internal combustion engine pass through a honeycomb structure and this is where the reaction happens. Basically, two main types of catalyst reactions are aimed for

  • With the help of reduction catalysts, nitrogen oxide is disintegrated into nitrogen and oxygen. These two gases, exclusively, aren't harmful but their combination is lethal. 

  • The carbon monoxide can be oxidised and converted into carbon dioxide with the use of oxidation catalysts. 

Types of Catalytic Converters 

There are two main kinds of catalytic converters and their functionality depends on the year in which your car was manufactured. 

  • A two way cat converter is used for oxidation reaction to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. These catalytic converters were used up until 1981. Having said that, vehicles that have diesel powered engines still utilise a two way catalyst converter. 

  • The modern manufacturing of cars utilises the efficiency of a three way cat converter to achieve the benefits of a two way cat converter and an added advantage of a reduction catalyst that helps in breaking down harmful emissions like  nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and oxygen. 

  • The benefits of a three way cat converter and oxidation catalyst can also be combined to create a more effective catalytic converter. 

If you are wondering , do cars need catalytic converters to run? Then the answer is a little complicated. The use of catalytic converters is not directly related to the running of a car as such. At first it might not make a noticeable impact but having a damaged cat converter will hamper the functioning of your car in the long run by causing engine problems. In addition to that, it is definitely needed to make your vehicle more sustainable and to ensure that it works properly in the long run. 

FAQ’s
  1. How does a catalytic converter work in a car? 

Cars produce a lot of harmful gases that cause serious effects on the environment and our health. A catalytic converter, changes the harmful engine emissions like carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons into steam and other less harmful gases. It is typically placed on the underside of a car and uses its catalyst chamber and two metal pipes for expelling catalysed gases out of the car’s exhaust system. 

  1. Why is the catalytic converter so important?

A catalytic converter is essential to make your vehicle environment friendly and safe for usage. The federal guidelines make it necessary for any car manufacturer to adhere to them and use devices like a catalytic converter to curb the risk of the harmful gases that a vehicle can emit into the air. 

  1. Can a car run without a catalytic converter?

Yes and no. In mechanical terms, the absence of a catalytic converter won’t have any effect on the working of a car but by using one, the manufacturers can ensure that the functionality of a car is both sustainable, safe, long term and nature friendly. As per the government guidelines, cars need to use an efficient catalytic converter to be able to be eligible for running. As a matter of fact, if a catalytic converter of a car is damaged and it stays that way for long, then the efficiency of the car’s engine will be significantly altered. 

Read More Post: 
  1. Car Waxing

  2. Car Battery Care

  3. Car Seat Care

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