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The three-way catalytic converter

Free Course Free Course Featuring: Activity Activity

This free course is concerned primarily with the chemistry that underpins the operation of the three-way catalytic converter that is placed in the exhaust systems of motor vehicles in order to reduce the emissions of primary pollutants: carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, including hydrocarbons. Discussion of the various effects of these pollutants and the consequent introduction and refinement of 'automotive emission regulations' has not been included, nor is there a look forward to future research trends.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • discuss how the gas mixture expelled from the engine, and the conversion performance of the three-way catalytic converter, depend on the air/fuel (A/F) ratio
  • list the chemical reactions whereby the three-way catalyst removes carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from petrol vehicle exhausts
  • interpret the results of experimental studies (involving activity tests, kinetic measurements, adsorption studies and/or various surface science techniques) of the three-way catalyst and appropriate model systems
  • discuss possible mechanisms for the catalytic reactions removing CO, hydrocarbons and NOx from vehicle exhausts
  • outline the modes of deterioration of the three-way catalyst, and comment on the strategies that could be used to reduce H2S emissions.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 12 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 2nd March 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Chemistry
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The three-way catalytic converter

Introduction

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Ensuring good quality air is essential for the protection of public health. Governments worldwide have adopted a range of increasingly demanding measures to curb air pollution with a particular focus on the emissions from motor vehicles. An important part of this strategy has been the development of the three-way catalytic converter to remove exhaust pollutants such as carbon monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. This course takes an in-depth look at the construction of this converter for petrol-driven vehicles and investigates the catalytic chemistry taking place at the molecular level. It is assumed that you already have a scientific background.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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