Catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device that converts toxicpollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction(oxidation or reduction). Catalytic converters are used in internal combustion engines fueled by either petrol (gasoline) or diesel— including lean burn engines.
The first widespread introduction of catalytic converters was in the United Statesautomobile market. Manufacturers of 1975 model year equipped gasoline-powered vehicles
with catalytic converters to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's stricter regulation of exhaust emissions. These “two-way” converters combined carbon monoxide (CO)
with unburned hydrocarbons (HC) to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). In 1981, two-way catalytic converters were rendered obsolete by “three-way” converters that also reduceoxides of
nitrogen (NOx); however, two-way converters are still used for lean burn engines.
Although catalytic converters are most commonly applied to exhaust systems in automobiles, they are also used on electrical generators, forklifts, mining equipment, trucks, buses, locomotives, motorcycles, and airplanes. They are also used on some wood stoves to control emissions. This is usually in response to government regulation, either through direct environmental regulation or through health and safety regulations.
Construction of a catalytic converter;
The catalyst support or substrate. For automotive catalytic converters, the core is usually a ceramic monolith with a honeycomb structure. Metallic foil monoliths made of Kanthal (FeCrAl) are used in applications where particularly high heat resistance is required Either material is designed to provide a large surface area. The cordierite ceramic substrate used in most catalytic converters was invented by Rodney Bagley, Irwin Lachman andRonald Lewis at Corning Glass, for which they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002.
The washcoat. A washcoat is a carrier for the catalytic materials and is used to disperse the materials over a large surface area. Aluminum oxide, titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide, or a mixture of silica and alumina can be used. The catalytic materials are suspended in the washcoat prior to applying to the core. Washcoat materials are selected to form a rough, irregular surface, which greatly increases the surface area compared to the smooth surface of the bare substrate. This in turn maximizes the catalytically active surface available to react with the engine exhaust. The coat must retain its surface area and prevent sintering of the catalytic metal particles even at high temperatures
The catalyst itself is most often a mix of precious metals. Platinum is the most active catalyst and is widely used, but is not suitable for all applications because of unwanted additional reactions and high cost. Palladium and rhodium are two other precious metals used. Rhodium is used as a reduction catalyst, palladium is used as an oxidation catalyst, and platinum is used both for reduction and oxidation. Cerium, iron, manganese and nickel are also used, although each has limitations. Nickel is not legal for use in the European Union because of its reaction with carbon monoxide into toxic nickel tetracarbonyl. Copper can be used everywhere except North America,[clarification needed]where its use is illegal because of the formation of toxic dioxin .