A Description of Catalytic Converters

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Introduction: General Description

A catalytic converter is an exhaust component used in modern automobiles to decrease the emission of toxic gasses. The average catalytic converter is capable of converting around 98% of these harmful emissions into relatively benign byproducts (UC Davis). It does this through the use of a catalyzing agent, that when combined with heat and oxygen produces a chemical reaction that is capable of converting various gasses such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydra carbons (HC), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) into less harmful carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2), and water (H2O) (Wiki).

The catalytic converter was first introduced back in the mid 1970’s, but didn’t see widespread adoption until new emissions regulations mandated the removal of the fuel additive “tetraethyl lead” from gasoline. This was because, the burned of tetraethyl lead in an internal combustion engine produced toxic byproducts capable of neutralizing the catalyzing agents in the catalytic converter rendering it ineffective (Wiki). Catalytic converters are split up into two basic types: two-way and three-way. The two-way catalytic converter only performs the oxidation reaction (the addition of oxygen), converting carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and converting hydro carbons into carbon dioxide and water. In contrast, the three-way catalytic converter not only performs the oxidation reaction but also performs a reduction reaction (the removal of oxygen), converting nitrogen oxides (such as nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric oxide) into nitrogen and oxygen (SmogTips). The two-way catalytic converter was quite common tell about 1981 when the three-way catalytic converter replaced it in most automotive applications (Wiki)....

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