What Are the Benefits of Catalytic Converters?

by Russell Huebsch

Scientists worked on the development of the catalytic converter for much of the 1960s, but it was not until 1973 that former General Motors president Robert Stempel oversaw its successful implementation in an automobile.

Benefits

The catalytic converter's sole purpose is to reduce the amount of harmful pollution produced by the combustion of hydrocarbon-based fossil fuels in cars.

Fun Fact

Catalytic converters decrease hydrocarbon emissions by about 87 percent, carbon monoxide by 85 percent and nitrous oxide by 62 percent during the expected life of a vehicle.

Effectiveness

Initially, automakers believed the catalytic converter would make cars prohibitively expensive. On the contrary, catalytic converters only add about two percent to the cost of a vehicle. In 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that catalytic converters saved at least 10 times more in health costs than the price of a catalytic converter.

Disadvantages

Catalytic converters decrease the fuel efficiency of a car and the increased price of unleaded gas costs consumers more in the long run, but only about $684 in 1980 dollars, or $1764.92 in 2008.

Warning

As of 2010, catalytic converters are mandatory on all cars in the US. Federal law considers it a crime to take it off, and a car without one will probably not pass a smog inspection.

About the Author

Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Wapster