The Industrial Revolution is often rightly credited as the moment in time when humanity, fresh from its Enlightenment, put its newly-developed scientific and philosophical reason into gear and brought forth the modern world, formed in the chrysalis of technology. To travel back in time to the end of the 19th Century, as the Industrial Revolution was coming to an end, Europe would be a loud and polluted continent, alive with the clangs and exhaust of engines great and small.

Eventually, as one might imagine, the air quality was beginning to suffer in ways people hadn’t really experienced before. Words like “pollution” and “emissions” were being thrown about in debates about the state of the environment surrounding the more densely-populated cities. The prevailing attitude at this time, however, was that technology had gotten us into this mess and it would get us out of it. In a post-Industrial world, we finally had the tools to fix any problem.

The Catalytic Converter Arrives

It was under these circumstances that French inventor Eugene Houdry first patented the catalytic converter, a piece of machinery that would go on to become an essential part of the automotive process. Today, Master Muffler shops across Utah tend to catalytic converters every day, all in an effort to keep our air clean and liveable.

The purpose of the converter is in the name: it uses a chamber full of special solutions to convert toxic engine exhaust into safe emissions, like steam. Of course, this is an overly simplistic explanation. In truth, the process is quite interesting.

How It Works

When our Layton car repair shop checks to see if the catalytic converter is working properly, the maintenance technicians are monitoring a few different things, namely the state of the part itself — whether it is in good condition and the exhaust is traveling through it properly — and whether the conversion is actually taking place. 

The process of the catalytic converter is as follows:

  • The untreated exhaust enters the converter and is passed through a honeycomb coated in platinum and rhodium (called a reduction catalyst) in order to strip nitric oxides from oxygen molecules.
  • By removing nitrogen atoms, harmful nitrogen dioxide is converted into harmless oxygen and atmospheric nitrogen. Carbon monoxide is created here too.
  • That mixture is then passed through another honeycomb coated in platinum and palladium (called an oxidation catalyst) which bonds the carbon monoxide molecules to oxygen to make carbon dioxide (CO2). 
  • The unburnt CO2 is bonded with hydrocarbons to create water, which is released out the other side of the converter as steam.
  • Ultimately, the car’s exhaust is made up of nitrogen, CO2, and water

Breathe the Fresh Air

Many years after its invention, the catalytic converter is now standard in all gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. This is due in large part to federal regulations mandating that all cars come installed with one. Our Layton car repair center specializes in catalytic converters and is one of the best places to go to ensure that your emissions system as a whole is functioning properly. 

Drop in to have our technicians take a look at your catalytic converter. It usually needs to be serviced every 10 years or so.