A Description of Catalytic Converters Essay

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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
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It’s usually constructed out of stainless steel and looks similar to an exhaust muffler, but contains the catalytic substrate, catalytic agent and may also have a small pipe exiting the housing at about the midpoint used to provide additional oxygen to the oxidation portion of the catalytic substrate (SmogTips). As exhaust gasses pass through the catalytic converter, heat is transferred to the catalyst initiating a sustained redox (reduction-oxidation) reaction (UC Davis).

The five main parts that make up a typical catalytic converter: housing, intumescent mat, heat shield, catalyst substrate, catalytic active material also known as catalytic agent (Figure 1). FIGURE 1 Three-Way Catalytic Converter Systems (TWC) (Products)

Description of Parts and their Function

HEAT SHIELD. The heat shield is a light-weight physical barrier, usually made of aluminum, used to protect the underbody of the vehicle from the high heat of the catalytic converter (Woodford).

HOUSING. The housing is a robust physical enclosure that contains and protects the catalyst substrate and agent, and connects the catalytic converter to the rest of the exhaust system. It usually has two or three pipes exiting it. The two larger pipes act as the entrance (accepting hot exhaust gasses from the engine) and an exit (venting the processed gasses out into the atmosphere). The optional third pipe can usually be found attached to

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