Here is how much platinum a catalytic converter contains

Platinum plays a vital role in catalytic converters. It oxidizes the hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide present in the converter in the presence of sufficient oxygen. Due to its property as an oxidizing agent, the metal platinum is commonly used in diesel applications. 

Cross Section of a Catalytic Converter

Both Palladium and platinum are the most effective metals for petrol-powered automobiles where there is a balance between oxidants and reductants in the exhaust gas, so in most cases, the choice on which to use is based on the most cost-effective. 

So, how much platinum is in a catalytic converter?

The amount of platinum available in the catalytic converter can vary significantly based on the model and the manufacturer. But on average, there are between 3 to 7 grams of platinum in a standard catalytic converter, but it varies from model to model and manufacturer.  

The three-way catalyst used in petrol cars should reduce the NOx to nitrogen element and CO to hydrocarbons; this explains why rhodium can also be used apart from just Palladium and platinum.

Although other transition elements can catalyze oxidation reactions, platinum has several benefits. The benefits or advantages include

  • Platinum has a high melting point.
  • Platinum’s interactions with poisons like sulfur compounds are limited to the mental surface.
  • Platinum is recyclable, and so it can efficiently be recycled.

While its melting point might seem irrelevant since platinum will never be near that temperature range while in use, it does not signify its general thermal durability.

The metal in the catalytic converter is in the form of nanoparticles. These particles often disperse when on a highly porous support compound or element. The particles start mobilizing and coalescing as the catalyst temperature increases. 

rhodium platinum palladium in catalytitc converter
catalytic converter honeycomb

This process is known as sintering and can become noticeable when the metal reaches Tammann temperature, which is the temperature at which the bulk mobility of the metal elements becomes measurable.

This temperature at which the mobility of the particles becomes measurable is assumed to be half of the metal’s melting point on the absolute temperature scale.

Moreover, metals like copper and silver have a high affinity for sulfur-containing elements and react with them to form compounds. When this transpires, there will be less metal for reactions.

Platinum is unique as it resists being fully poisoned. For instance, the sulfur-containing compounds inhibit instead of poisoning platinum-based catalysts. 

How much platinum can be recovered from a catalytic converter?

Platinum is considered the most valuable metal than other metals such as silver and gold. It has properties that are closely the same as that of gold, being ductile and malleable. As well, platinum has the property of being resistive to corroding.

Although platinum is valuable, what defines itself from other metals is its rarity. In other words, its quality is high and far compared to gold and silver.

In its existence, in every 15 gold, there is only one platinum which means acquiring it is pretty difficult. To get pure platinum amounting to 1 ounce, you need ten tons of platinum raw ore.

In the extraction of platinum from a catalytic converter, only (three to seven) grams of platinum can be recovered. The cost of these grams of platinum can range between $100 to $237, although the price varies depending on several factors.

Can platinum coming from a used catalytic converter lose its properties?

Platinum is a precious metal that doesn’t lose its properties. In the same way, the platinum recovered from the used catalytic converter retains its properties all the time.

Do catalytic converters have more platinum than usual?

By 2020, a data collection on which car has the most expensive catalytic converter showed that the Ferrari F430 was number one, costing more than $3,770.

The catalytic converters contain a high-quality T38 coating of precious metals such as platinum, and the coating is four times more than the standard one.

Other cars with expensive catalytic converters include Lamborghini Aventador, Ford F-250, Ford Mustang, and Ram 2500. These cars, their catalytic converters use high contents of platinum, making them expensive.

Where does platinum come from?

The most producers of platinum in the world are Southern Africa, North America, and Russia, with South Africa and Canada being leading platinum producers with 80%.

What kind of metal is platinum?

Platinum is a silvery chemical element and member of the six transition compounds in group viii in the periodic table. It belongs to a group of platinum metals: rhodium, osmium, platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, and iridium.

The metal has the symbol Pt, atomic number seventy-eight with an atomic weight of 195.09. It is heavy, precious, soft, malleable, and silver-white metal with a high melting point. 

Where is platinum found?

Platinum originates from the earth’s crust from the ultramafic igneous gemstones. It is associated with gemstones such as olivine and chromite. The metal is found as grains and nuggets, and its pure nature is unknown since well-formed platinum crystals are rare to find. 

Why does platinum become so expensive?

Platinum becomes so expensive because it is a precious metal, and precious metals are priced by weight. Since platinum is heavier or denser than gold, it becomes so expensive.

The other reason is that platinum is more valuable than gold since it is a rare metal to find. Moreover, the extraction process for platinum is more expensive than other metals.

This is because platinum has a higher melting point, making its extraction expensive due to the high amount of energy required to extract it.

Additionally, there has been a higher demand for heavy-duty Chinese vehicles which has, in turn, increased the demand for platinum, increasing its value day by day. 

What is the price of platinum today?

The price of platinum today varies based on the metric units used. Platinum costs $1028 per ounce, $33 per gram, and $33050 per kilogram. 

Conclusion 

Platinum is a silvery-white precious metal used in catalytic converters to oxidize hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The metal is soft, malleable, and recyclable and is used primarily in heavy-duty cars.

Platinum metal is expensive and has a higher density, with a cost that is growing almost day by day as there is more need for it.

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