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Catalytic converter history

Catalytic converter history

The first car was founded over 130 ago. Still, it took over 20 years to start mass production. By that, we mean Henry Ford and his MODEL T. Over 100 years ago, everyone got a chance to get a daily transport vehicle, which they could use to get to work, shop, etc. Since car owners numbers grew daily, air pollution was another upcoming global problem. In the mid-’50s, a study in Los Angeles showed that the city had a huge air pollution problem. Even back then, this problem was clearly visible on a clear day; there was a big smoke stack in the air from automobile exhaust pipes.

So, there was an obvious problem – air pollution, and someone needed to find a way to fix it. Around the ’50s in the United States lived a French mechanical engineer Eugene Houdry, who was also an expert in catalytic oil refining. He was really concerned with the possible adverse effects of air pollution from cars and the whole manufacturing industry on people’s health. So, Houdry founded an Oxy-Catalyst company whose main task was to produce catalytic converters and somehow reduce air pollution.

Of course, back then, technology was very primitive, and it was nothing like we use in our modern, daily vehicles. Primarily it was used on warehouse forklifts fueled by low-grade and non-leaded gasoline, which was at least something. But later, Houdry began research to find a way to adapt this technology for daily cars. Sadly, he passed away in the early ’60s before any permanent solution was reached. However, for his life’s work, he was awarded number “2742437” by the United States Patent Office. Which even to this day is used for “Catalytic structure and composition.”

The original model of this converter was used to clean all the toxic materials sent from the atmosphere during the combustion process. It meant carbon monoxide was converted into carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons were converted to water and co2 This design was great on industrial equipment, such as smokestacks. However, its effect was minimal on unleaded low-grade gasoline-powered machines. All automobiles used leaded gasoline back then, so those catalytic converters were practically useless. So, the car industry needed to find a way to reduce emissions that are made by cars.

Still, a decent car adaptation only occurred in the mid-’70s because vehicles ran on leaded gasoline back then, which damaged converters very fast and beyond repair. More emission control regulations forced all car manufacturers to cut emissions by 90 percent in just five years. So, the next step for the catalytic converter came. Dr. Carl D. Keith, who then worked in Engelhard Corporation, invented a relatively modern three-way “cat,” which we use today. The new design implemented old converter functions and started converting nitrogen oxide to nitrogen and water.

But that was not the main reason which caused all the cars nowadays to have a catalytic converter. It happened back in 1995 when those regulations were even more amplified. So now, all manufacturers must implement this technology in their internal combustion engine-powered cars.