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Old 08-08-2010, 02:23 PM   #1
2010 WRX Limited
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Default Some facts about Catalytic Converters

Elsewhere in this forum there have been some statements made about catalytic converter's that are false and I thought I might post some info about them in hopes that those who choose to can have a mature discussion about their benefits and drawbacks.

Facts:

1. Catalytic converters, contrary to popular belief, were not created to combat global warming. They were fitted on combustion engines as an answer to the smog in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Their premise was that they would reduce hydrocarbons which are cooked by the sun and create the brown haze in the sky.

2. The problem with cats is that although they reduce hydrocarbons, they actually emit more nitrous oxide which is actually 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

3. Cars without cats are not necessarily louder than those with cats. The muffler and resonator designs have much more effect on the loudness of a car than the catalytic converter.

4. Some people object to cars without cats saying they emit foul smells. By that logic would driving a diesel be foul as well? I think not. If you want your car to smell good, you should get a diesel and run your own homemade biodiesel and you can drive around smelling like French fries.

5. This is the clincher: Catalytic converters are made up of precious metals that require significant energy to be extracted. The pollution created by the harvesting of these precious metals has actually caused the area of Norlisk, Russia to be added to Time Magazine's list of the most polluted places.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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wow..... this thread is gonna get ugly. Not worth my time.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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wow..... this thread is gonna get ugly. Not worth my time.

Really, I'm not trying to call anyone out here. I give anyone the benefit of the doubt. But if you give someone enough rope, and they choose to hang themselves, than they pretty much prove what you already suspected.

But back to the cats. When I was new on here one of the first things I started asking was who was running with or without them to get an idea of the actual drawbacks and benefits. People tried to help by saying what they thought but in the end I was left to find out the info for myself. My hope here is not to incite a flame war, I will deal with the other matter in private. But I would like to offer some actual facts for people who may be new here and want to go stage 2 and don't know how.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 2010 WRX Limited View Post

Facts:

1. Catalytic converters, contrary to popular belief, were not created to combat global warming. They were fitted on combustion engines as an answer to the smog in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Their premise was that they would reduce hydrocarbons which are cooked by the sun and create the brown haze in the sky.

Can you please qualify this and explain how you came up with "popular belief" as a fact?

2. The problem with cats is that although they reduce hydrocarbons, they actually emit more nitrous oxide which is actually 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Could you please explain how an efficiently working cat INCREASES NO2 gases over NOT using one?


3. Cars without cats are not necessarily louder than those with cats. The muffler and resonator designs have much more effect on the loudness of a car than the catalytic converter.

Can you tell me how this is a fact? If you have the identical exhaust system (from the cat back) and take both a catted and catless DP (or midpipe for an NA car) do you really think the catless will be quieter?


4. Some people object to cars without cats saying they emit foul smells. By that logic would driving a diesel be foul as well? I think not. If you want your car to smell good, you should get a diesel and run your own homemade biodiesel and you can drive around smelling like French fries.

They do, again, please explain how a catless car emits less odor than a catted car


5. This is the clincher: Catalytic converters are made up of precious metals that require significant energy to be extracted. The pollution created by the harvesting of these precious metals has actually caused the area of Norlisk, Russia to be added to Time Magazine's list of the most polluted places.

Can you please provide some numbers on this, such as which is more, the amount of emissions it takes to produce said metals or the amount of emissions a cat decreases during it's lifetime and for whatever use they get recycled for?

Thank you, and in the future, if you are going to make statements such as these and tout them as FACTS please back them up.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:10 PM   #5
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as a licensed Mechanic, I have been running Catless for years just because I wasn't daily driving my old car, same thought like you about diesel and some older cars that we helped to pass air care. One day after the age of 30 I realize I don't need that smell for myself everytime I'm taking my car out except for track day so I decided to put the cat back on and it actually makes me smile. I couldn't mind opening up my hatch while the car is idling and it doesn't smell like ***** when I get back into the car.

When I picked up my STi last year I already know Catless will give me better power yet I only want to go catted, I'm still as happy for the difference it makes and I'm also running her at stage 2. I know a lot of friends who are still running catless but neither of us would dare to stay behind the car for more than 5 mins, why do you wanna poison yourself in the first place (let's not talk about the environment) :P

so I guess you can choose whatever you wanna choose, there is no point of any discussion and when I'm trying to recall, I think I put the cat back on just because one day I was at Richmond Center and a 70 years old man with a 70s Volvo parked next to me says "Hey kid, my **** box smells better than yours" ~ first instint i was pissed but I took his words for it...
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:12 PM   #6
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^ haha Tora, easy...

We all know there is no point to argue when we have been with cars long enough, who hasn't want to go catless when they are young?

i guess it's just an experience...
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:18 PM   #7
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Default Hello.

Well I was planning on introducing myself in my own thread, but seems like NASIOC has stricter posting rules than other forums.

So instead I'll ask this. Don't catalytic converters REDUCE the amount of NOX? By converting it to N2 and CO2?
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:28 PM   #8
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NOx is just a combination of NO and NO2 and is what Aircare uses as it's signifier.

5Zig...I don't mind someone wanting a catless car I just don't want factless facts posted unless they are in fact factual as they may influence people incorrectly.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:36 PM   #9
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NOx is just a combination of NO and NO2 and is what Aircare uses as it's signifier.

5Zig...I don't mind someone wanting a catless car I just don't want factless facts posted unless they are in fact factual as they may influence people incorrectly.
I'm aware of that. But the OP posted that they increase oxides of nitrogen (N0, NO2...) I was under the impression that cats are designed to break them down to plain nitrogen and Co2.

Which is correct?
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #10
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I don't know the answer to that but seeing as none of his facts are in fact facts I'd put more validity in what you are saying. NO2 has more to do with engine heat (ie, higher engine temps for example from an engine running lean, will create MORE). Not sure if the cat has much of anything to do with it.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #11
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As wikipeida would say [citations missing]
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:07 PM   #12
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5 zigen and Tora, your comments are appreciated.

Tora, you are correct that the 'popular belief' phrase is debatable as I have no study to verify what people think cats are for. But here on the forum I have seen people suggest that that by removing your cat you are contributing to global warming.

Catalytic converters are nothing more than complex incinerators that use a three-way catalyst process to superheat unburned fuel as it travels through the car’s exhaust system. As a consequence there is increased green house gas emissions (GHG) in the form of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide being expelled.

My statement about the noise of a catalytic converter is true. If I am running a catless downpipe and a stock cat back it hardly makes any more noise than stock. Certainly way less than an aftermarket cat back would make. The muffler and resonator dictate noise levels way more than a cat or lack thereof.

Regarding odour, yes you will smell more unburnt fuel behind my car if it is catless, but is it more toxic or potentially dangerous to breathe? Absolutely not.

Also the production and transportation of catalytic conveters themselves uses considerable fossil fuels and directly creates even more Greenhouse gasses. It's just true.

I know that the stuff I'm saying goes against even what I thought about catalytic converters before doing some research so I expected some debate. As long as it's done in a respectful way, it's actually constructive. But guys, don't try to pull out the 'young kid doesn't know any better' card because it just makes you look old and ignorant.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:11 PM   #13
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As wikipeida would say [citations missing]

That's funny that you mention Wikipedia because it is one of my sources. The other is a New York Times article:

http://www.sepp.org/Archive/controv/...catalytic.html

And here's a great paper on the subject:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=ca
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:20 PM   #14
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5 zigen and Tora, your comments are appreciated.

Catalytic converters are nothing more than complex incinerators that use a three-way catalyst process to superheat unburned fuel as it travels through the car’s exhaust system. As a consequence there is increased green house gas emissions (GHG) in the form of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide being expelled.
This is not correct. It uses the precious metals to catalyze a reaction not of unburnt fuel, but by-products of imperfect combustion. Principally carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen into nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Maybe some unburnt fuel but that is not it's principal feature.

Sure it's from Wiki, but...

"Since 1981, three-way catalytic converters have been used in vehicle emission control systems in North America and many other countries on roadgoing vehicles. A three-way catalytic converter has three simultaneous tasks:
Reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen: 2NOx → xO2 + N2
Oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide: 2CO + O2 → 2CO2
Oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) to carbon dioxide and water: CxH2x+2 + [(3x+1)/2]O2 → xCO2 + (x+1)H2O"

You are probably thinking of the old RX-7 thermal reactor emissions system.

Edit: Disregard some of the above. My mistake was mixing up Nitrous Oxide (N2O) with Nitrogen Oxides (NO, NO2). However your definition of its operation by burning unburnt fuel is still incorrect.

Last edited by Burnman; 08-08-2010 at 05:29 PM. Reason: Oops...
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:31 PM   #15
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This is not correct. It uses the precious metals to catalyze a reaction not of unburnt fuel, but by-products of imperfect combustion. Principally carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen into nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Maybe some unburnt fuel but that is not it's principal feature.

Sure it's from Wiki, but...

"Since 1981, three-way catalytic converters have been used in vehicle emission control systems in North America and many other countries on roadgoing vehicles. A three-way catalytic converter has three simultaneous tasks:
Reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen: 2NOx → xO2 + N2
Oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide: 2CO + O2 → 2CO2
Oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) to carbon dioxide and water: CxH2x+2 + [(3x+1)/2]O2 → xCO2 + (x+1)H2O"

You are probably thinking of the old RX-7 thermal reactor emissions system.
When it says oxidization, it basically is saying 'burning'. It does so by operating at an extremely high heat and it depends on the high heat to continue the reaction. They actually purposely design the fuel system to run rich so that it can continue the burning (oxidization.) That's the hydrocarbons that wiki mentions. It's the unburned fuel.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:40 PM   #16
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Edit: Disregard some of the above. My mistake was mixing up Nitrous Oxide (N2O) with Nitrogen Oxides (NO, NO2). However your definition of its operation by burning unburnt fuel is still incorrect.
It's not my definition, it's actually what it does. I suppose I can find more sources than the ones I already listed but Dr. Hal Campbell is a professor of natural resources and sciences at California State University. He says what I just said and he is certainly qualified to do so.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:40 PM   #17
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When it says oxidization, it basically is saying 'burning'. It does so by operating at an extremely high heat and it depends on the high heat to continue the reaction. They actually purposely design the fuel system to run rich so that it can continue the burning (oxidization.) That's the hydrocarbons that wiki mentions. It's the unburned fuel.
Last time I checked, Carbon Monoxide was not a fuel. Cats are not oxidizing NOX. Nor was my car designed to run rich at normal driving conditions. If they need more heat in the catalyst, they would actually run leaner to elevate EGTs. If all they did was burn there would be no need for the expensive precious metals, and they wouldn't be catalyzing anything. Unburnt fuel is primarily dealt with by the EGR system.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:47 PM   #18
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Last time I checked, Carbon Monoxide was not a fuel. Cats are not oxidizing NOX. Nor was my car designed to run rich at normal driving conditions. If they need more heat in the catalyst, they would actually run leaner to elevate EGTs. If all they did was burn there would be no need for the expensive precious metals, and they wouldn't be catalyzing anything. Unburnt fuel is primarily dealt with by the EGR system.
EGT alone are not enough to sustain the reaction. Ask any good Subaru tuner- when you are in closed loop cycle the air to fuel ratio constantly fluctuates in order to keep the catalytic converter operating. Go out and log your car, you will see it.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:54 PM   #19
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EGT alone are not enough to sustain the reaction. Ask any good Subaru tuner- when you are in closed loop cycle the air to fuel ratio constantly fluctuates in order to keep the catalytic converter operating. Go out and log your car, you will see it.
I thought most fluctuation was due to lag from the O2 sensor measurement to the ECU adjusting fuel/timing, but I'm not a tuner, and Subarus are rather new to me.

Well it's been a slice, but I have my post count up enough so I can formally introduce myself elsewhere. Then I'll need a few more so I can see web addresses and the like...

Have fun with this. (Was this just over someone calling you an ass in the AirCare thread?)
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:01 PM   #20
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I thought most fluctuation was due to lag from the O2 sensor measurement to the ECU adjusting fuel/timing, but I'm not a tuner, and Subarus are rather new to me.

Well it's been a slice, but I have my post count up enough so I can formally introduce myself elsewhere. Then I'll need a few more so I can see web addresses and the like...

Have fun with this. (Was this just over someone calling you an ass in the AirCare thread?)

Haha, thanks for the dialouge and welcome to the Subaru thing. Have a good one.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:39 PM   #21
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2010, the way you are describing it, the Catalytic converter is acting as an independant heat source. The catalytic converter is heated VIA the exhaust gases and only functions when heated to a certain temp. This is why your car spews out most of it's harmful emissions within the first 5-10 minutes of driving...once the catalytic converter is heated the emissions drop drastically. If you would like to DISPROVE your theories simply put a catless downpipe on a car, and go through aircare, then put a catted downpipe (or stock) with everything else identical and see what happens.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:49 PM   #22
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2010, the way you are describing it, the Catalytic converter is acting as an independent heat source. The catalytic converter is heated VIA the exhaust gases and only functions when heated to a certain temp. This is why your car spews out most of it's harmful emissions within the first 5-10 minutes of driving...once the catalytic converter is heated the emissions drop drastically. If you would like to DISPROVE your theories simply put a catless downpipe on a car, and go through aircare, then put a catted downpipe (or stock) with everything else identical and see what happens.
No I wasn't saying that it is it's own independent heat source. Only that the cat only functions by the engine being purposely tuned to have rich pulses. Wouldn't some of the harmful emissions being spewed from a cold car be due to the fact that the engine itself hasn't reached optimal operating temperature? As far as aircare is concerned, surely we can all agree that it is an epic fail. Or do you think we should continue the aircare program in it's current form?
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:35 PM   #23
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You're changing the topic. I'm pretty sure running without equipment that helps to reduce the emissions coming out of the tail pipe is illegal. I've run with and without a cat. I felt like a douche when my car stunk and I didn't really have a legitimate reason for it to. And if we want to get back up to the top where you are saying you want to give people options to go stage 2, you just need a full turboback exhaust, and going catless isn't going to make much of a difference.

Quote:
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(Was this just over someone calling you an ass in the AirCare thread?)
^ This.
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:33 AM   #24
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You're changing the topic. I'm pretty sure running without equipment that helps to reduce the emissions coming out of the tail pipe is illegal. I've run with and without a cat. I felt like a douche when my car stunk and I didn't really have a legitimate reason for it to. And if we want to get back up to the top where you are saying you want to give people options to go stage 2, you just need a full turboback exhaust, and going catless isn't going to make much of a difference.



^ This.

Sandman, a catalytic converter does not help reduce emissions coming out of your tailpipe, that's my whole point. If you don't like the smell of going catless, or you are concerned that you may be breaking the law by installing a catless downpipe, go catted. I'm totally cool with it. I guess part of my original point that I was trying to make is that whatever you decide to do with mods is your business. It certainly doesn't make you an ass in my view.

It's kind of off topic, but you don't need anything more than a downpipe to run a stage 2 map on the 08+ WRX.

You know the whole topic is even boring me now. I didn't want the thread to be about what was said in the other thread but I guess since that's what spawned this discussion it's only logical that we would come full circle. Anyways, the science of catalytic converters is even beyond me a little and I'm just paraphrasing what I've read elsewhere. So far, it seems that nobody has brought any actual science forward to disprove what I have been reading. But if it's out there I am open to it and I don't even care that much either way.

Last edited by 2010 WRX Limited; 08-09-2010 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:41 AM   #25
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Sandman, a catalytic converter does not help reduce emissions coming out of your tailpipe, that's my whole point.
YES, it does!! Do you REALLY think that catalytic converters are just a sham? That some cat company is owned by an even bigger company that are trying to perpetuate some huge hoax on society that an "unfiltered" engine is pretty harmless and that, not only does a cat not improve emissions, but is makes them worse? Seriously? Where does your logic come from? Backwards logicville? I'm sorry, at first I thought this was just slightly a misguided post that maybe had SOME base in reality but now you are just WAY out there. Please come back to earth. Cat's DO serve a purpose. The odd person running without a cat will not destroy the universe but seriously...I don't even know what to say now.
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