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What is a Catalytic Converter?

Car exhaust has never been so expensive, both to the environment and to motorist’s wallets. 

You WISH your body had a catalytic converter! A Catalytic Converter is the vehicle equivalent of a fat-burning miracle machine. Engine exhaust is picked apart and turbo-digested (converted) into relatively harmless, spent waste.

Here’s How

First Layer: Metal

It looks just like a muffler. Usually rectangular shaped, it’s the part of your exhaust system that makes it look like a snake that has eaten one or two mice. Catalytic Converters can be confused with Mufflers, which tame the engine noise made by combustion explosions.

Unlike a muffler, the converter is an active participant in the chemical process of exhaust formation. 

Second Layer: Ceramic

Encapsulated beneath a thin metal covering, the catalytic converter has a ceramic hot-dog bun that acts as a super-heated thermos for chemical reactions. It’s one of those travel mugs that will burn your tongue two days after you fill it. 

Third Layer: Honey Comb

Yep. Bees have a way with design and automakers stole it without giving them a cent or any recognition. The “core” or interior of the ceramic thermos is a network of straight straws through which exhaust gasses travel on their way to our climate-wonky atmosphere. 

The Heart of the Matter: Chemistry

A Catalytic converter gets REALLY hot, because, like your hot yoga class, things like to bond and burn up at higher temperatures. A lot of partner swapping in the catalytic converter combustion process. 

Precious Metals:

This is where all the theft you hear about comes in. This honeycomb core we are talking about contains a few grams of three precious metals: Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium. These are wicked expensive. Like 15 times the price of gold (fact check us) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/catalytic-converter-theft-south-africa-rhodium/2021/03/03/dc288192-777d-11eb-9489-8f7dacd51e75_story.html

These three metals are the “catalysts”. They are the kids in your class that your mom worried would have a bad influence on you and make you get tattoos and start vaping. And she was right. 

These expensive elements have an irresistible influence on vehicle exhaust. But unlike your mom’s fears, these bad boys will make you into a better person.

First reaction: Reduction

Platinum and Rhodium effectively reconfigure nitros oxides into benign compounds going out the tail pipe. If this isn’t cool on its own, the reduction process leaves available oxygens that help out with some dangerous loners later in the process. 

Second reaction: Oxidation

Platinum and Palladium have an effect on carbon monoxide. Remember those lone oxygens from the reduction process? Platinum and palladium are eHarmony of motor exhaust. They find matches and add an oxygen to carbon monoxide turning it into, harmless bad breath. 

Lastly, any unburned hydrocarbons marry up with remaining oxygens that might be hanging out on the corner and form water. Harmless. 

That’s a catalytic converter. If you need more information on protecting your cat from theft, check out our Cat Theft Deterrent:   https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=354068688999255