Why Are Catalytic Converters So Expensive?

Why Are Catalytic Converters So Expensive?

The three metals used in catalytic converters are palladium, rhodium, and platinum, which are expensive metals where each ounce costs:

  • Palladium – $2,322
  • Platinum – $1,005
  • Rhodium – around $18,500

They are used in cars to emit toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide into nontoxic ones. Also, since they are expensive, cases of catalytic converter thefts have increased in 2020 to 2,347 back in December.

How Do Catalytic Converters Work?

These catalytic converters can make automobiles reduce their harmful emissions poisonous to humans and contribute to global warming.

Specifically, the metals palladium, rhodium, and platinum have catalytic properties, which speed up the chemical reactions to convert toxic gasses into nontoxic ones.

Catalytic converters contain ceramic that maintains its high temperature for the chemical reaction to occur.

First, the metals platinum and rhodium in the reduction catalyst hog the oxygen from the nitrous oxide and get to be emitted as nitrogen into the atmosphere.

Second, the metals platinum and palladium in the oxidation catalyst bind the collected oxygen from the reduction catalyst to the carbon monoxide emitted as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These metals also oxidize unburnt hydrocarbons, from which gasoline is made.

These converters will be doing a lot of work, from maintaining the heat to the actual work of converting the gasses to nontoxic emissions.

So, it will affect the engine’s horsepower to increase the car’s speed.

How Do Catalytic Converters Work

Frequently Asked Questions

Does removing the catalytic converter improve automotive performance?

Removing the catalytic converter can increase the car’s horsepower since engine back-pressure will be reduced.

It will lessen the strain on the engine, for it won’t need to gain much energy to filter and convert the gasses.

This will lower the temperature of the engine needed to operate since it wouldn’t need to maintain a high temperature for the ceramic to speed up the chemical conversion.

How often should catalytic converters be replaced?

Catalytic converters last for at least 10 years or longer. But other problems can occur, such as clogging or being contaminated by oil or coolant.

Bad catalytic converters can lead you to frequent replacements as these converters can overheat, smell like sulfur or rotten eggs, and further reduce the acceleration of your engine.

However, the catalytic converters may not just be the one that is broken. Other parts may be causing the engine to not accelerate or strain further the engine’s performance.

A mechanic should be consulted first regarding the engine issues before replacing catalytic converters.

Is there an alternative to a catalytic converter?

Strontium-doped perovskites have been claimed to achieve the conversion of toxic nitrous oxide to nontoxic gas emissions, which was led by Chang Hwan Kim from his GM research team.

Scientist James E. Parks II stated that this alternative has a promising efficiency, which was said to reduce the amount of platinum needed for speeding up the conversion.

As the amount of platinum is reduced, it still maintains its effectiveness for converting nitrous oxide.

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