Catalytic Converters....what do they do?
A catalytic converter is a pollution-control device placed in
the exhaust system of an automobile. It was in the 1980's that the United States
passed a federal law that required all new automobiles to have catalytic
converters. A catalytic converter takes the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons
that are given off as waste from the combustion of gasoline in the car's engine
and converts them into water and carbon dioxide gas. Since water and carbon
dioxide cycle through the environment they are safer than carbon monoxide and
hydrocarbons, the converters also convert nitrous oxides into nitrogen gas which
naturally makes up 78% of air.
A catalytic converter is coated with platinum and rhodium (both catalysts), all spread out over a honey comb structure for a greater surface area. The exhaust gases pass through the converter where the catalysts speed up the oxidation reactions to turn the harmful gases into less harmful substances.