Why should we use 3-way catalytic converters?
The exhaust gases from an engine contain harmful substances such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and Hydrocarbons (HC). These substances produce extreme environment hazards. 3-way catalytic converters convert these harmful substances to less harmful nitrogen (N2), carbon-di-oxide (CO2) and water (H2O).
A three-way catalytic converter makes use of two catalysts to convert harmful gases to harmless gases. They are:
- Reduction Catalyst and
- Oxidation Catalyst
The reduction catalyst is made of platinum and rhodium while the oxidation catalyst is made of platinum and palladium. Both the catalysts have a ceramic honeycomb structure.
Stage 1 – Reduction Catalyst:
The exhaust gases are first sent over the reduction catalyst (which is made of platinum and rhodium). It converts oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2). The following reactions take place when the exhaust gases pass over the reduction catalyst.
2NO → N2 + O2
2NO2 → N2 + 2O2
The reduction catalyst simply rips off nitrogen and oxygen from the oxides of nitrogen. As you might know, nitrogen and oxygen are harmless gases while oxides of nitrogen are really harmful to the environment.
Stage 2 – Oxidation Catalyst:
Exhaust gases that are free of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are then sent over the oxidation catalyst (made of platinum and palladium). The oxidation catalyst coverts carbon-monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC) in the gases into carbon-di-oxide (CO2) and water (H2O).
The following reactions takes place when the exhaust gases pass over the oxidation catalyst:
2CO + O2→ 2CO2
HC + O2 → CO2 + H2O
Note: The second reaction (above) is a generalized reaction. In it, HC stands for hydrocarbon. HC might be methane, ethane or other hydrocarbon.
The gases that finally come out of the catalyst chamber are N2, CO2, and H2O. 3-way catalytic converters are so named because they are capable of eliminating three pollutants – NOx, CO and HC.
If you still have any confusion in understanding the working of 3-way catalytic converter, refer the block diagram above or watch the animation video found below.
How a 3-way Catalytic Converter Works – Animation Video
If you have any other ideas about 3-way catalytic converter, you can share them by commenting on this article