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Invention of The Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are an essential component of modern vehicle exhaust systems that help to significantly reduce the negative environmental effects of automobiles. The catalyst system converts dangerous gases emitted by automobiles into less hazardous substances. Carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons, for example, are converted into carbon dioxide and water. Precious metals, such as platinum, are used in catalytic converters to promote reactions as car exhaust moves by. 

  

The Origin of Catalytic Converters 

  

Eugene Houndry, a French-born engineer and inventor who immigrated to the United States in 1930, began working on developing the catalytic converter for gasoline engines used in automobiles. He was awarded U.S. Patent 2742437 for his work. Since its initial commercial application in 1968, the technology has been constantly improved. 

  

The catalytic converter was developed further by other engineers such as Carl D. Keith, Antonio Eleazar, and John J. Mooney to the point where it could be mass-produced and meet the requirements of the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations. 

  

To pass the emissions test, all vehicles manufactured after 1975 were required to have a two-way catalytic converter. The purpose of these two-way catalytic converters is to remove carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons from exhaust fumes. The three-way catalytic converter was invented in the 1970s, and it is the type of converter that is still in use today. This converter filters automobile fumes more effectively by combining platinum, rhodium, and palladium. 

  

The precious metals platinum, palladium, and rhodium are still used in converters today, with a few tweaks and variations. In the 1970s, John J. Mooney and Engelhard Industries invented the modern catalytic converter. Mooney was looking for a way to reduce car emissions when he discovered that platinum could be used to catalyze the reaction of carbon monoxide and oxygen, thereby lowering pollution. Engelhard Industries mass-produced catalytic converters, which quickly became standard equipment on automobiles in the United States. 

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