How Does A Catalytic Converter Help The Environment

How Does A Catalytic Converter Help The Environment

How Does A Catalytic Converter Help The Environment?

How does a catalytic converter help the environment? A catalytic converter (also referred to as cats or cat-cons) is an exhaust emission control device. It is the stainless steel box you might see in the exhaust system. The base consists of a ceramic or metallic mat. This protects it from shock and vibration.

Catalytic converters convert pollutants from the exhaust gas into less toxic substances. It does this by catalysing a redox reaction.

A catalytic converter reduces the harmful emissions from the car’s exhaust. Furthermore, the catalyst (substance that accelerates chemical reaction) turns the toxic gasses into safer ones like steam.

To understand how catalytic converters help the environment, you should understand the three most harmful emissions:


  • Hydrocarbons are a class of compounds. They are mainly composed of hydrogen and carbon. They are also the main component of oil, pesticide and natural gas.
  • Hydrocarbons emitted from cars can damage the environment. The following are some harmful effects of hydrocarbons:
    • Contribute to the greenhouse effect
    • Affect climate change
    • Deplete the ozone layer
    • Reduce the photosynthetic process in plants
    • Increase occurrences of cancer and respiratory problems to humans


  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless and harmful gas. It is produced by burning gasoline, wood, charcoal, natural gas and other fuels. It’s also present in a vehicle’s exhaust.
  • The harmful effects of carbon monoxide are:
    • It affects the ozone’s troposphere
    • Poisonous to animals and humans.
    • Leads to heart attack and brain damage


  • Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that can cause inflammation of the airways. The negative effects of nitrogen to the environment include:
    • Damages vegetation including leaf damage and reduced growth.
    • Leads to acid rain. Acid rain is any kind of precipitation with elevated levels of hydrogen ions (pH level).
    • Damages properties and plants. Also dangerous for humans and animals.
    • It is a component of smog. Smog is haze along with with air pollutants such as smoke. Smog can cause heart and lung problems.
    • High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide could kills fish in the ocean.
    • If you breathe in nitrogen oxide from the car’s exhaust it can cause lung problems.

What Process Takes Place In A Catalytic Converter That Helps The Environment?

The catalytic converter uses two types of catalysts. The reduction catalyst uses platinum (Pt) and rhodium (Rh) elements. This separates the molecules from each other. The reduction catalyst rips off the nitrogen molecules from the nitrogen oxides. Finally, the result will be a safe gas. The oxidation catalyst uses platinum (Pt) and palladium (Pd) elements. This oxidizes the hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide.

Then, the hydrocarbons become water and oxygen. In addition, the carbon monoxide becomes carbon dioxide. The last stage of emission control comes from the oxygen sensor. This piece is upstream from the catalytic converter. The sensor relays the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gasses. The last stage helps the over-all engine efficiency. This also allows the engine to provide enough oxygen to effectively complete the oxidization process.

Places that have high vehicle density such as urban areas also have a high volume of air pollutants. Of course, pollution, especially, in the air is a serious problem. This is because it it comes from different sources, like smog. Furthermore, one of the most common causes is vehicle exhaust. You can address this by adding catalytic converters in your car’s exhaust.

Catalytic converters were invented to decrease harmful pollution. However, catalytic converters only reduce harmful gasses. They do not remove it completely. Also, catalytic converters work best in high temperatures. This is ideal for gasoline engine vehicles. Diesel engine vehicles can use the two-way oxidization converter. This tackles both hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. In addition, nitrogen oxide could be managed by adding a filter inside the exhaust pipe.

The Benefits Of Buying A Catalytic Converter

As you can see, having a cat is a wise decision. It will help the car’s exhaust. Also, it helps decrease toxic gasses emitted in the environment. In some studies, catalytic converters decrease hydrocarbons by almost 87%. Carbon monoxide is also reduced by 85%. Finally, nitrous oxide emissions are decreased by 62%. These statistics apply to the life of the vehicle.

Things To Keep In Mind About Catalytic Converters

  • Catalytic converters help the environment by reducing pollutants that cause global and climate change.
  • You should check the converters regularly to ensure that it is working properly.
  • Watch the changes in the car’s exhaust. Look for the exhaust pipe releasing smoke.
  • Don’t strip or remove the car’s catalytic converter. This could damage the exhaust. In addition, this can also damage the car itself.

Conclusion – How Does A Catalytic Converter Help The Environment

Catalytic converters play such a crucial role in minimizing the impact of emissions on the environment that in some countries, it is illegal to drive a car without a catalytic converter.