The catalytic converter is an important element of a modern vehicle exhaust system. It uses the catalytic action of precious metals to convert combustion pollutants into naturally occurring gases, reducing emissions of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide to low levels.
Two Important Design Parameters
The minimum temperature at which a catalytic converter begins to function, called the light-off temperature, is 600-700 degrees F.
Vehicle manufacturers usually minimize the distance between the engine and catalytic converter. This reduces the time required for the converter to reach operating temperature, which in turn reduces cold-start emissions.
Normal Temperatures and Beyond
The ideal operating temperature range of catalytic converters is 900-1,000 degrees F, although they can, and often do, operate above this range.
However, when a converter operates above 1,300 degrees F for prolonged periods, catalysts and converter components begin to melt. The result is a gradual and usually permanent degradation in performance.
High Converter Temperatures Spell Trouble
A converter temperature can rise dramatically when an engine is badly malfunctioning or for some other reason producing an excessive amount of heat and pollutants. In such cases the catalyst temperature can exceed 2,000 degrees F. When this happens the converter becomes deactivated and conversion efficiency approaches zero.
How Hot Does an Exhaust Pipe Get?
If you have ever been a passenger on a motorcycle, you were probably warned by the driver to keep your leg away...
What Is the Threshold Temperature for a Catalytic Converter?
The catalytic converter on a car serves a vital function of cleaning up some of the pollutants that result from the combustion...
How Does Leaded Fuel Affect Catalytic Converters?
Leaded fuel and cars with catalytic converters don't mix. As few as two tanks of leaded gasoline can render a catalytic converter...
How to Test for a Clogged Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter is subjected to reduced exhaust flow from the vehicle if the converter is allowed to overheat for any length...
How to Get Platinum Rhodium And/Or Palladium Out of a Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter is a device added to the exhaust systems of automobiles in order to reduce the amount of pollutants put...
How Can I Tell If My Catalytic Converter Is Plugged?
One of the signs of a plugged catalytic converter is a serious loss of performance when the engine is warm. Although your...
How to Sell Used Catalytic Converters
Catalytic converters are a car part that filter the exhaust air. They contain some metals that have some value as scrap and...
The Dangers of a Catalytic Converter
Since 1975 most cars have included catalytic converters, which remove the most dangerous pollutants from engine exhaust before it is passed to...