Catalytic Converter

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Topics: Nitrogen, Hydrogen
Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters are an integral part of converting much of the pollution that comes out of a car’s exhaust. (2) Since the 1970´s, almost every car has a catalytic converter integrated to reduce harmful emissions. I will explain the chemistry behind the catalytic converter and how it works.

To solve the huge problem dealing with cars polluting a city, the cities, states and federal governments make clean-air laws to restrict the amount of pollution that cars can produce. Over many years, car producers have found ways to reduce the pollution and one was the catalytic converter, which was invented in 1975. The catalytic converter, converts harmful pollutants into less harmful ones, before they even leave the car. Eugene Houdry invented the catalytic converter in 1973 where he then patented it. The catalytic converters were further more developed by two engineers called John Mooney and Carl Keith. The catalytic converter is placed under the front seat by most carmakers. (See photo)

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Cars produce a lot of harmful emissions, but the main ones are: carbon monoxide which is a piousness gas, hydrocarbons which is mostly produced by evaporated, unburned fuel and nitrogen oxides, which cause irritation to human mucus membranes.
But how does a catalytic converter help reduce the emissions? To answer this question, we first need to look into what a catalyst is. A catalyst is a substance, which accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected. (3) The human body also contains catalysts, which are called enzymes. These accelerate the reaction of biochemical reactions in the human body. In a catalytic converter, there are two types of catalysts inside. The first one is the reduction catalyst and the other is the oxidation catalyst. Both of the catalysts consist of a ceramic structure. The reduction catalyst is the first step of the catalytic converter. It uses platinum and rhodium to reduce the NOx emissions.

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