A vehicle cat is one of the most expensive elements in the construction, especially if you drive an SUV or any other large-engine vehicle. In addition to a high price (that can exceed $1,500 for a new device for some models), a catalyst has a limited service life. When it is expired the device is not only useless in terms of cleaning fumes from carcinogenic toxins, but it poses a threat to your engine.
On average, a typical cat can be operated until your car reaches 100,000 km driven. Then a vehicle owner needs to have it removed and replaced with a new one. But even a scrap cat costs money because its internal honeycomb element contains some precious metals (PGMs): Pt, Pd, and Rh.
What Determines The PGMs Amount
The exact amount of rare precious metals differs in various catalytic converters. It depends on many factors:
•where it was produced;
•how long the catalyst has been in use, etc.
The precious metals can be found in the catalytic coating of the honeycomb element. The more space is coated, the more materials are required. That is why buying scrap SUV catalysts are much more popular than the devices for small cars.
The ratio of Pt, Pd, and Rh varies depending on the engine type. So, cats for diesel engines contain mostly platinum. More rhodium and palladium can be found in gasoline devices.
No wonder that catalysts for different vehicle models require more or less specific materials. But be attentive to the country of production too. Typically, cats made in Japan and Germany are richer in PGMs, but this is not a strict rule.
Let's take a used catalyst that weighs 1200 g. It contains approximately 0,12% of Pt, 0,08% of Pd, and 0,008% of Rh by weight. Please, note that these are average values and they can vary significantly depending on the factors listed above.
The amount of PGMs in a used catalyst depends mostly on its service life. The catalytic coating becomes thinner depending on how many kilometers a vehicle has run with this cat. Here is a small trick: to get more precious metals it is better to buy damaged or clogged catalysts that are impossible to be longer operated, but haven't reached the service life limit.
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