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What metals are found in catalytic converters?

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Death, taxes, and thefts of catalytic converters – three are constant for car owners in America. Imagine something ten times more valuable than gold. Those metals in catalytic converters are a reason for the rise in thefts.

Owning a car is a unique experience for many individuals. As a result, numerous individuals obtain a license to go wherever they want, anytime they want. There will be different maintenance costs and insurance premiums associated with owning a car. There are also additional gloomy disadvantages that owners must be aware of.

Car theft is a problem. However, some will steal certain components. Catalytic converters, or devices that reduce the toxicity of exhaust gases, are one of these components. 


Metals found in catalytic converters

Typically, the main reason why catalytic converters are stolen is for monetary gain. Usually, platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), and rhodium (Rh) comprise the catalyst component of a catalytic converter (Rh). In addition to catalytic converters, all three platinum group metals (PGMs) are highly uncommon and have a wide range of applications.


Metals found in Catalytic Converters


Imagine something ten times more valuable than gold. The catalytic converter contains a considerable amount of this substance. This is what makes them desirable targets for theft. These valuable metals promote the chemical reactions that transform extremely hazardous byproducts into far less hazardous ones. There is considerable interest in these metals due to their efficiency in transforming hazardous emissions produced by car engines. 

It seems doubtful that the problem of catalytic converter theft will disappear any time soon until more automakers adopt a more secure design that can lock or prevent the simple removal of catalytic converters.

Approximate prices of metals in catalytic converters

The prices of these metals have skyrocketed since the turn of the 21st century. This is one of the reasons why the theft of catalytic converters is on the rise.

Platinum’s average ounce price decreased from approximately $530 in 2001 to approximately $1,100 in 2021, after reaching a peak of $1,700 in 2011. Conversely, palladium prices increased from an average price of $600 per ounce in 2001 to $2,400 per ounce in 2021.

Approximate prices of metals in catalytic converters

Rhodium, however, has been the most volatile. Averaging $1,600 per ounce in 2001, the price increased to approximately $18,000 in 2021. This with a high of nearly $26,000 that year. 

In contrast, the price of gold increased sixfold from $300 per ounce in 2001 to around $1,800 per ounce in 2021. The increase in the price of a converter’s three important metals causes an increase in the cost of the converter itself, as well as an increase in the scrap value of converters since the metals can be recovered and resold.

Laboratory and dental equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, and jewelry extensively uses platinum. Palladium is an essential component of fuel cell technology.

Methodology to determine the value

The composition and proportions of the metals utilized must be known. This will determine the recovery value of the PGMs in a catalytic converter. Before 20 years ago, the average concentration and ratio of Pt and Rh were rather stable, so a simple weighting was adequate for estimating the precious metal content.

In contrast, the prices of these three elements have changed significantly over the past two decades due to supply, demand, and speculation.
These fluctuations, along with the tightening of pollution regulations, have directly affected the composition of the catalysts, which has had a substantial effect on demand.

What are the different types of Catalytic Converters?

Below are the primary types of catalytic converters:

  • Two-way oxidation: The instruments for two-way oxidation simultaneously convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water. However, due to their failure to control nitrogen oxides, the United States and Canada no longer utilize this method.
  • Three-way oxidation: Three-way oxidation devices are utilized in car emission control systems across the globe, including in the United States and Canada. The reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen, the oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, and the oxidation of unburned hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water are all performed simultaneously.
  • Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC): DOCs are most typically employed in diesel and other compression-ignition engines. Known for their 90 percent efficiency, these converters can eliminate diesel odor and reduce visual particles.

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