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SEGi University

Candidates Name: Mukundan Ramasamy Student ID: SCM- 016855 Lecturer/ Supervisor: Mr. Rezuwan Date of Submission: 12.12.2013


What Is A Catalytic Converter ? device incorporated in the exhaust system of a motor vehicle, containing a catalyst for converting pollutant gases into less harmful ones. The harmful compounds are:
A catalytic converter is a Hydrocarbons [HC] (in the form of unburned gasoline) Carbon monoxide [CO] (formed by the combustion of gasoline) Carbon monoxide is a poison for any air-breathing animal. Nitrogen oxide [NX] (created when the heat in the engine forces nitrogen in the air to combine with oxygen) Nitrogen oxides lead to smog and acid rain, and hydrocarbons produce smog.

Catalytic converters were first widely introduced in American production cars in 1975 due to EPA regulations on toxic reductions. The United States Clean Air Act required a 75% decrease in emissions in all new model vehicles after 1975. This decrease was to be carried out with the use of catalytic converters. Without catalytic converters vehicles would release hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide. These gases are the largest source of ground level ozone, which causes smog and is harmful to plant life. The catalyst helps to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. It converts the hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. It also converts the nitrogen oxides back into nitrogen and oxygen.Catalytic converters can also be found in generators, cars, buses, trucks, and trains. Figure 1 : Converter Of Hydrocarbons [HC] , Carbon monoxide [CO] and Nitrogen oxide [NX] Into Carbon dioxide [CO 2] ,water [ H2 o] and Nitrogen [ N2 ]


A catalytic converter is a very simple device using the basic redox reactions in chemistry to help reduce the pollutants a car makes. it converts around 98% of the harmful fumes produced by a car engine into less harmful gases. It is composed of a metal housing that has a ceramic honeycomb-type interior with insulating layers. This honeycomb interior has thin wall channels that are coated with a washcoat of aluminum oxide. This is very porous and increases the surface area, which allows for more reactions to take place. This is where the precious metals are located. These metals include platinum, rhodium, and palladium. No more than 4-9 grams of these precious metals are used in a single converter. The converter utilizes simple oxidation and reduction reactions to convert toxic fumes into gases that are not nearly as harmful to the environment. Recall that oxidation is the loss of electrons and that reduction is the gaining of electrons. These precious metals listed earlier promote the transfer of electrons and in turn the conversion of toxic fumes. The last part of the converter is a control system that controls the fuel-injection system. This system is aided by an oxygen sensor that monitors how much oxygen is in the exhaust stream. This sensor in turn tells the engine computer to adjust the air-to-fuel ratio, thus keeping the catalytic converter running at the stoichiometric point and near 100% efficiency.

Figure 2 : Basic Catalystic Conveter


In the catalytic converter, there are two different types of catalyst at work, a reduction catalyst and an oxidation catalyst. Both types consist of a ceramic structure coated with a metal catalyst, usually platinum, rhodium and/or palladium. The idea is to create a structure that exposes the maximum surface area of catalyst to the exhaust stream, while also minimizing the amount of catalyst required, as the materials are extremely expensive. Some of the newest converters have even started to use gold mixed with the more traditional catalysts. Gold is cheaper than the other materials and could increase oxidation, the chemical reaction that reduces pollutants, by up to 40 percent . Most cars are equipped with three-way catalytic converters. This refers to the three regulated emissions it helps to reduce. The reduction catalyst is the first stage of the catalytic converter. It uses platinum and rhodium to help reduce the NOx emissions. When NO or NO2 molecule contacts the catalyst, the catalyst rips the nitrogen atom out of the molecule and holds on to it, freeing the oxygen in the form of O2.The nitrogen atoms bond with other nitrogen atoms that are also stuck to the catalyst,forming N2. A three-way catalytic converter has three simultaneous functions: Reduction of nitrogen oxides into elemental nitrogen and oxygen. (NOx Nx + Ox) Figure 3: Three-way reduction and Two-way oxidation catalyst

The oxidation catalyst is the second stage of the catalytic converter. It reduces the unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide by burning (oxidizing) them over a platinum and palladium catalyst. This catalyst aids the reaction of the CO and hydrocarbons with the remaining oxygen in the exhaust gas. For example: Oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. (CO + O2 CO2) Oxidation of hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. (CxH4x + 2xO2 xCO2 + 2xH2O)

Figure 4 :Ceramic Honeycomb Catalyst structure. There are two main types of structures used in catalytic converters -- honeycomb and ceramic beads. Most cars today use a honeycomb structure


Nitrogen oxides- these compounds are in the same family as nitrogen dioxide, nitric acid, nitrous oxide, nitrates, and nitric oxide. When NOx is released into the air, it reacts with organic compounds in the air and sunlight, the result is smog. Smog is a pollutant and has adverse effects on children's lungs. NOx reacting with sulfur dioxide produces acid rain, highly destructive to everything it lands on. Carbon monoxide- this form of CO2 is a harmful variant of a naturally occurring gas. Odorless and colorless, this gas does not have many useful functions in everyday processes. Hydrocarbons- inhaling hydrocarbons from gasoline, household cleaners, propellants, kerosene and other fuels can cause death in children. Further complications can be central nervous system impairments and cardiovascular problems. Figure 5 : Effect Of Nitrogen Oxides

Organic compound in the air


Sulfur dioxide

Acid Rain

Contami Water quality nation chemical Nitrous oxide & greenhouse Climate change gas

Figure 6 : Effect of Hydrocarbon

Overexpore to hydrocarbon

Birth Defects


Excessive inhalation consumption


Reaction with nitrogen & sunligth


The catalytic converter was invented by Eugene Houdry, a French mechanical engineer and expert in catalytic oil refining who lived in the U.S. around 1950. When the results of early studies ofsmg in Los Angeles were published, Houdry became concerned about the role of smoke stack exhaust and automobile exhaust in air pollution and founded a company, OxyCatalyst. Houndryfirst developed catalytic converters for smoke stacks called cats for short. Then he developed catalytic converters for warehouse forklifts that used low grade non-leaded gasoline. Then in the mid-1950s he began research to develop catalytic converters for gasoline engines used on cars. He was awarded United States Patent 2742437 for his work . Widespread adoption of catalytic converters didn't occur until more stringent emission control regulations forced the removal of the anti-knock, tetra, from most gasoline, because the lead was a 'catalyst poison' and would inactivate the converter by forming a coating on the catalyst's surface, effectively disabling it Catalytic converters were further developed by a series of engineers including John J. Mooney and Carl D. Keith at the Engelhard Corporation, creating the first production catalytic converter in 1973. Dr. Willim C. Pfefferle developed a catalytic combustor for gas turbines in the early 1970s, allowing combustion without significant formation of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

Figure 7 : Location Of Catalytic Converter


Improving The Catalytic Converters Of Motor Vehicles

These were published on May 22, 2009. The chemical mechanism that occurs on the surface of an automotive catalytic converter has been deciphered thanks to an observation speed record established by Frdric Thibault-Strarzyk at the Laboratoire Catalyze et Spectrochimie in Caen (CNRS-Ensicaen). This performance, achieved in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, has made it possible to characterize this key step in the reaction that ensures pollutant removal by automotive converters. The challenge is indeed considerable: to obtain a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of removal catalysts in order to improve converters and other catalysts used by the automotive industry. A catalytic converter included in a vehicle's exhaust system is a solid element that converts the toxic gases generated by the engine into a mixture of inoffensive gases. Although these catalysts are widely employed, their chemical mechanisms have hitherto was poorly understood. In addition to improving catalytic converters, this observation technique will also help to understand many of the other pollutant removal systems used by industry. The observation of very fleeting types of catalysts in the context of these mechanisms is particularly challenging. Until now, the most rapid observations of the surface of these catalysts using infrared methods were around one-tenth of a second. A novel combination of observation methods has now reduced the duration of observations by a factor of one million. This manipulation was achieved using a femtosecond laser which was focused on the surface of the solid catalyst made up of silver nanoparticles on an alumina substrate and placed in an atmosphere of toxic gases, thus recreating the conditions of a converter in an exhaust system. As soon as the reaction was triggered by the laser beam, an infrared spectrometer analyzed the surface of the catalyst at a rate of 30 million observations per second. The key intermediate step in the removal reaction was thus observed for the first time and consisted in a cyanide flip between the silver nanoparticles and the substrate. This molecular flip only lasted 2 microseconds and indeed explains how the removal catalyst functions.

Click the link below to play the video C_eGBI

This video explained us , how the catalytic converter is work .We know that the engine produces power by burning the fuel in the presence of oxygen. However, while doing the same, the engine also produces some exhaust emissions, such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen (N2) and Water (H 2O). But these less emissions are possible only when a correct amount of fuel mixture is sent to the engine. which causes the engine not to burn the fuel mixture completely and thus developed some unwanted harmful gases in the exhaust. Most common exhaust products include Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrocarbons (HC) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX). These products are harmful to human beings and give rise to smog and acid rains. Automakers were made to develop a separate exhaust system to save the environment.


A catalytic converter is a device in the exhaust pipe of a car ,near its engine, to clean up the exhaust the car sends out into the air. It works by using a catalyst material, usually made of platinum, rhodium and/or palladium The catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon,nitrogen oxide , all of which make the air dirty and make people sick, into carbon dioxide ,water and nitrogen and all of which are less harmless however are still the main reasons for global warming. So that , this provides a chemical reaction with the exhaust gases to reduce the level of exhaust pollutants entering the atmosphere.


Frdric Thibault-Starzyk, Etienne Seguin, Sbastien Thomas, Marco Daturi, Heike Arnolds, and David A. King. (June 2, 2009).Improving The Catalytic Converters Of MotorVehicles. [ONLINE]Available: ner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3 A+Latest+Science+News%29. Last accessed Nov 20, 2013. Avneet Kahlon, Tony Tang. (2008). Catalytic Converters. [ONLINE] Available: rters#References. Last accessed 20th Nov 2013. Karim Nice and Charles W. Bryant. (2000). How Catalytic Converters Work [ONLINE]. Available: Last accessed 20th Nov 2013. Catalytic converter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. Catalytic converter Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2013].