What does a catalytic converter do


Asked by Jan 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM about the 1988 Lincoln Continental Signature FWD

Question type: General

8 Answers


A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device which converts toxic byproducts of combustion in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine to less toxic substances by way of catalysed chemical reactions

3 people found this helpful.

Yep, that would be my answer, and here is another explanation, and remember that pre 81 it was a two way convertor which know is a three way so here's another explanation and a warning, How do catalytic converters work? As exhaust passes through the device, the catalytic converter changes hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides into water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. A catalytic converter works by using a ceramic or metal honeycomb structure of thousands of channels coated with a combination of platinum, rhodium and/or palladium. This exposes the maximum surface - a combined area about the size of a football pitch - of a catalyst to the exhaust stream, while also minimizing the amount of catalyst required. . Also a nice warning about why people like to steal your cat convertor. As prices of precious metals skyrocket, thieves are targeting the cat convertor for the platinum, rhodium and/or palladium. Especially you folks with trucks or high clearance vehicles, LOL easier to get underneath with the saws-all. Thefts that can be accomplished in less than a minute. I went out to my truck one morning and went to start it up, half asleep still and damn near went through the roof, my truck scared nearly literally the crap out of me when it started, if you've ever heard a vehicle with no exhaust system at all then you know what I am talking about and right under my seat. Thieves had gone under my truck and cut out the cat convertor and wow was that a rude way to come alert at 4am, very loud. At the time I'm thinking WTF why would somebody do that, thinking about any new enemies lately? Nope, so why, well I found out why and If you peer inside a used catalytic converter, nothing looks salvageable, much less valuable. But some of the gray gunk in there hides three expensive precious metals and catalytic converters have only small traces of the metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium — but there’s enough in them for a thief to resell stolen units for up to $200 apiece. Rhodium is among the most expensive metals on Earth, commanding as much as $6,000 an ounce on the open market. So I head down to a guy I know in the scrap business and start talking to him about my cat being cut out of my truck and that is where I got my learning about why that would happen and that dealers “are paying top dollar — platinum, palladium, rhodium inside of them — and they’re getting top dollar” on resale. So, long winded as always but hope it's informative.

1 people found this helpful.

lregal can you elaborate a bit more instead of such a brief condensed explanation like that?

2 people found this helpful.

Hey Dave, thanks for the message and yes sure I probably should have been more specific and I am glad you mentioned the lack of specifics and it really has been bothering me all day and I just knew that I missed something but couldn't put a finger on it UNTIL I got your message and then it dawned on me what I had forgotten, the damn pollutants that the catalytic convertor or cat or catcon what ever you want to call the thing, well what the hell does it convert? jeez, I am sorry, that was so stupid of me to have forgotten, it's called a convertor for some reason right? So what does it convert, I still can't believe I forgot to mention the most important stuff. I am always trying to be brief, always taking the shortcut and trying to dumb it down, you know what I mean? After all you don't want to get to technical or people who are just trying to get some advise or a simple question answered will just get all confused and frustrated and give up and feel helpless and worthless, depressed or worse angry and bitter, spiteful and mean feeling and then here I am giving a completely incomplete answer and I forgot the most important information, so really, THANKS DAVE for bringing this to my attention and to all who have read my totally incomplete answer, I sincerely apologize and promise from now on I will do my best to be more accurate and will always give a full and complete answer to all questions, after no question is a dumb question, but I am sure feeling dumb, stupid, worthless, ignorant and mostly half ass and had it not been for, and I give complete credit to DaveH25 for bring this issue to my attention, I am positive that I would have left many readers wondering, well WTF, convert what, water into wine or what?? I forgot to mention and I truly feel so ridiculously stupid to have forgotten to mention that most present-day vehicles that run on gasoline are fitted with the"three way" converter, so named because it converts the three main pollutants, and truly I can't believe I forgot to mention this in my last answer and again I am sorry, that are in automobile exhaust. The 3 main pollutants are carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen. The first 2 are converted to 2 new molecules. This happens through an oxidizing reaction which converts "carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (HC)" to "CO2 and water vapor". The last pollutant is converted to 3 new molecules. This happens through a reduction reaction which converts "oxides of nitrogen (NOx)" to "CO2, nitrogen (N2) and water (H2O)". OK, there ya go, that's a little better, oh ya what a minute I almost forgot that the catalytic converter was invented by Eugene Houdry, a French mechanical engineer and expert in catalytic oil refining[7] who lived in the U.S. around 1950, I think?

1 people found this helpful.

O.k. the reason I ask is I have a devise that take out the CO2 and other gases like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons then hold them and release clean fresh air. You can put this devise on you vehicles to end vehicle pollution. All I need is two wires and empty out catalytic conventor to do this.

Then you are going to be very very rich. Come on man are you serious? Every engineer in the world can't come up with such a device and you invented one in your garage? You have tested this, right? No particulates no CO Co2 no unburned hydrocarbons huh. The main component of vehicle exhaust, like 3/4 of it is nitrogen, harmless, the atmosphere is 3/4 nitrogen anyway, what about diesel engines? And aircraft, especially jets, put out 400X what a car does. Forgive me for being so cynical. Get a patent post haste

1 people found this helpful.

WHAT??? First off I am not as nice as Dave and second of all Bryan you need to learn to re-read what you post and at least correct the mistakes. Get it?? If you can't do that then what fucking machine could you design as it's much more complicated than posting a ridiculous claim and by the way I've got two wires and a "empty out convertor", I think..... I know I've got two wires. And even though I was clowning around in the post above yours, the science I posted is fact and as Dave mentioned what the fuck do you have against nitrogen? Dave is this another muffler bearing, box stretcher post?? , and it's not me this time. I love the smell of exhaust......... Also Bryan, know one here is going to buy this thing from you, this is a question forum. You have made a stupid claim.

Alright Bryan Bates, I just went a read some of your past questions and it is very apparent that you have some mental health issues. So with that said, I apologize for my harsh reply to you. You see I am not to stable myself so your question made me suspicious and got me wondering if perhaps there might be another nut on this site and was deliberately attempting to take my spot on the whose the nuttiest score counter. This could mean war, Bryan....

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