Air pollution is becoming the main problem in the world and is considered as one of the main contributors of global warming. To be able to lessen this problem, some researchers, scientists and inventors came up with a solution that can at least decrease the pollution that cars produce. The catalytic converter was invented to help this phenomenon. It was first introduced during the year 1975. Catalytic converter is an emission device that controls and converts toxic contaminants in exhaust gas to a reduced amount of toxins by catalyzing the oxidation or reduction process. The catalytic converters are mainly used with interior ignition engines which are stimulated or powered by gasoline, diesel, kerosene heater and stoves. The renowned catalytic converter was invented by a French national and a mechanical engineer, Eugene Houdry. The catalytic converter is really an essential part of automobiles. Hence, some people are bounded with the question – What does the catalytic converter do – and gain the information.
Engine To Decrease Air Pollution
Cars are powered by diesel, kerosene or gasoline which is mainly made of petroleum. Petroleum’s main component is hydrocarbons. The pollutant gases that are mainly produced and detrimental for health are Carmon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and some other volatile compounds. As a result, people call it smog. The catalytic converter is responsible in reducing the harmful gasses produced by these cars. The converter is a huge box made of metal, secured underside of the car that is composed of two pipes that comes out from it. One of which is connected to the machine and carries scorching heat and polluted fumes from the car’s cylinders, while the other pipe is connected to the exhaust. When the gases from the cars exhaust blow greater than the catalyst, the chemical response takes place on its exterior, breaking separately the pollutant gases and changing them into other forms of gases that are safer to blow with less number of pollutants out into the atmosphere. One important thing that catalytic converters do is that the owner of cars are advised to use unleaded fuel because the lead in conventional gas ‘destroys’ the catalyst and hinders it from taking up the toxins and contaminants in exhaust gases.
These are the essential things that the catalytic converters do. So the main and general function of catalytic converters is to decrease the number of poisonous gases that can be inhaled by the people. To know more about how do catalytic converters work, the different steps that happens inside it is stated below.
How Do Catalytic Converters Work: Process
The car engine can produce many poisonous gases and pollutants. Among the different pollutants that it produces are nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds or VOC’s, carbon dioxide and water vapour. In terms of chemistry, catalyst is defined as a material that causes or increases a chemical reaction without being influenced. Catalysts contribute in the different reactions but do not influence every single reactants or effects of the reaction they catalyze.
For the catalytic converter in the car engines, there are two types that are working simultaneously. One is the catalyst for reduction and the other one is responsible for an oxidation. Both of these types are composed of structures that are ceramic coated with a metal catalyst which are usually platinum or rhodium. The main thought is to generate a structure that exposes the highest or widest surface of catalyst to the exhaust flow, while at the same time decreasing the amount of catalyst that is required, as the equipment are expensive. Some of the new and innovative converters even have began to utilize gold mixture with the more traditional or conventional catalysts. Gold is economical than the other materials that can be seen and could increase the oxidation process, the chemical reaction can even decrease the pollutant by 40 percent.
There are numerous innovative and modern cars that are now designed with the three-way catalytic converters. The cars are composed with three synchronized emissions. The reducing catalyst is the first phase of the catalytic converter. The use of platinum and rhodium are seen on this phase to reduce the nitrogen emissions. When a nitrogen molecule has a contact with the different catalysts, the catalyst breaks the nitrogen atom away from the molecule and grasps unto it to free the oxygen in the appearance of O2. The nitrogen atom combines with the other remaining nitrogen atoms that are trapped with the catalysts, forming N2.
The second phase of the catalytic converter is when the catalyst is in oxidation process. The catalyst decreases the hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide (CO) that have not been burned by oxidizing them on a palladium or a platinum catalyst. This catalyst helps in the reaction or the chemical process of the hydrocarbons and CO with the other oxygen that is present in the exhaust gas.
There are two main kinds of structures used for catalytic converters – the honeycomb and the beads with ceramics. Most cars that are being used today have the honeycomb structure.
The third phase of the conversion process is the system control that requires the monitoring of the exhaust stream and utilizes the information or data to manage the injection system for fuels. There is a sensor for oxygen that is mounted on the upper part of the stream of the catalytic converter. The sensor is responsible for telling the computer engine about the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. The computer engine has the power to increase or decrease the number of oxygen that is present in the exhaust by adjusting the ratio of the air and fuel. This control allows the computer engine to be sure that the car or machine is functioning at close to stoichiometric point and also to make certain that there is really enough oxygen in the exhaust to permit the catalyst for oxidation to burn the hydrocarbons and CO.
The equipment is doing a good job for reducing the air pollution but it still needs further improvement and research. Most automakers position the converter beneath the front passenger chair which is distant from the main engine to maintain the low temperature levels.