How Is Platinum Extracted From a Catalytic Converter?

by Jason MedinaUpdated August 01, 2023

Complete Removal of Catalytic Converter From Vehicle

In order to extract the platinum from within a catalytic converter, the converter must be removed completely from the vehicle. Most catalytic converters simply bolt on to a vehicle's exhaust system with a series of threaded bolts. Loosening and then removing these bolts with a simple socket wrench allows for a catalytic converter to be pulled (removed) from a vehicle. If time is of the essence, a cutting torch can be used to simply cut the metal attachments linking a catalytic converter to a vehicle's exhaust system, allowing for fast catalytic converter removal.

Removal of Catalytic Converter Catalyst Material

Platinum, which is used as a catalyst accelerant material inside most modern catalytic converters, is located deep inside a catalytic converter. It serves as coating on top of the main catalyst elements. The elements that ignite incoming exhaust gases that pass through a catalytic converter, otherwise known as catalyst elements, look like chunks of burnt charcoal. These catalyst pieces, which become white-hot in response to incoming exhaust gases, are coated with platinum to speed up the rate at which they heat up and burn exhaust gases. To remove the platinum coating on the catalyst pieces, the catalyst pieces must be removed from the converter. This is done simply by turning up the catalytic converter lengthwise and pounding on one end with a blunt instrument until the catalyst pieces start to fall out of the lower, open end of the converter.

Platinum Coating Removal

Once the platinum-coated catalyst material has been removed from a catalytic converter, the platinum can be removed from each individual piece of catalyst. The platinum, which appears as a silvery, bronze color located on the outer surface of each piece of catalyst, can be picked and peeled off by hand or by using a flat-head screwdriver or pair of box cutters. The platinum normally flakes off in small pieces or nuggets. As each piece is chipped off, it can be set aside and placed on a clean towel or rag. Complete platinum removal from the converter catalyst material should take 30 to 45 minutes for a standard-sized catalytic converter.

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