What Is the Threshold Temperature for a Catalytic Converter?

Written by timothy smith
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What Is the Threshold Temperature for a Catalytic Converter?
Vehicles need catalytic converters to reduce emissions. (car image by Mladenov from Fotolia.com)

The catalytic converter on a car serves a vital function of cleaning up some of the pollutants that result from the combustion of fossil fuels.

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Function

The catalytic converter works to remove hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide from the tailpipe emissions of vehicles. It does this by using a three-way catalyst to convert carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide into water and carbon dioxide.

Normal Operating Temperatures

According to AA1Car.com, the normal operating temperature of the converter can range up to 1,93.3 to 871 degrees Celsius. The converter needs to reach 400 to 600 degrees to begin functioning.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

At about 2,000 degrees, problems begin to appear, including the degradation and weakening of the aluminum oxide honeycomb. The platinum and palladium coating on the honeycomb begins to melt and sink into the ceramic substrate, reducing its effect on the exhaust. This accelerates the ageing process and causes the converter to lose efficiency. If the temperature gets too high or stays high for too long, the whole inner workings can melt together and cause blockage, leading to back pressure. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and reduced power at high speeds.

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