LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Roger Jones
From Drive on! The social history of the motor car by L. J. K. Setright (2002: Palawan Press; 2003: Granta)

p. 122
"In fact the catalytic converter performed no atmospheric miracles: no processes took place in it that could not and eventually would not occur naturally in free air. All the catalysis did was to accelerate the processes of nature, but by preventing the concentrations of contaminants that nature would deal with rather more slowly, it offered prompt treatment at a price that those who would profit reckoned people would pay. That is why all our cars have to be corrupted by catalysts today, including Hondas -- despite which Honda engines are still the world's cleanest, as well as the world's liveliest."
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - bell boy
and?
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - mike hannon
He was right. Cats are the prime example of quick fix, me-too gadgetry to con people into believing they are saving the planet.
Incidentally, I wonder what LJK thought of the notion of fitting cars with explosive devices in the name of safety...
Signed, A Luddite.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Zebra
Wise words from LJK. But perhaps they have wider application. Substitute sewage for exhaust gases in that extract, and what do we get?

"In fact the [sewage works] performed no [watery] miracles: no processes took place in it that could not and eventually would not occur naturally in free [water]. All the [sewage works] did was to accelerate the processes of nature, but by preventing the concentrations of contaminants that nature would deal with rather more slowly, it offered prompt treatment at a price that those who would profit reckoned people would pay. That is why all our [settlements] have to be corrupted by [sewage works] today..."

It's just as true for sewage. So, let's get rid of the sewage works, then.

Zebra
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Lud
Interesting you should mention sewage in this thread, Zebra, because catalytic converters as well as being expensive, fragile and unnecessary, quite often emit a stench not unlike sewage...
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - type's'
I do recall Honda winning regular awards for being producer of the cleanest engines.
I also recall talking to a car engine designer who baulked at the policy laid down by the EU (and other bodies around the world) mandating that every car had to have a catalyst fitted. The car makers duly obliged and stopped investing in lean burn technology for a long period of time becuase they were compliant to the solution laid down by people (MPs and EMP's) who know nothing about developing engineering solutions. What they should have done was challenge the engine designers with targets to reduce emmissions and then left the experts to develop the solution. Who knows we may have ended up with something much more effective than we have today.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - type's'
>>and?<<

and oldman we are all forced to pay for technology that is not entirely necessary because of what I said above.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - madf
Well the alternative was to force all manufacturers to meet lean burn by a fixed date and stop them producing cars if they did not and to guarantee they would keep low emission in life.. or fail MOTs and need new engines.

There are times when a bodged answer may not be the best solution from an engineering view but may be the only practical alternative.

Consider Ford UK: The old Kent engine would never meet low emissions: so that's the Ka gone and cheap Fiestas. ARover would have gone bust 5 years earlier: no way would their engineers had the resources.
Vauxhall?
No cheap Hyundais etc...


madf
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Aprilia
I also recall talking to a car engine designer who baulked
at the policy laid down by the EU (and other bodies
around the world) mandating that every car had to have a
catalyst fitted. The car makers duly obliged and stopped investing
in lean burn technology for a long period of time becuase
they were compliant to the solution laid down by people (MPs
and EMP's) who know nothing about developing engineering solutions. What they
should have done was challenge the engine designers with targets to
reduce emmissions and then left the experts to develop the solution.


This is exactly what happened - one of the big drivers being the so-called 'Muskie Laws' of 1971 which sought to massively drive down emissions through the 1970's. Many companies experimented with emission-control technologies such as stratified charge engines (Honda), thermal reactors (lots of companies), various types of catalysts and lean-burn technologies (our own Rover, amongst many others).
The only technology that was proven to reduce emissions sufficiently was the use of a three-way catalyst with microprocessor-based closed-loop mixture control. The reduction in emissions since 1971 has been quite staggering and we are now very much into 'diminishing returns'.

What LJK says is fundamentally true. Unfortunately in certain parts of the world nature gets overwhelmed and we can't wait while it does its work......
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - JH
Type S
a classic case of the ignorant presenting a solution instead of a problem. I learnt many years ago that people hit a problem, they devise a solution, the solution has holes in it so solution 2 is applied, solution 2 still has some holes in it. Eventually they give in and come to you, but present you only with the final problem, not the fundamental problem. In other words, they've provided you with a (faulty) solution and expect you to make it work. It takes a lot of digging to get to the real problem, which is usualy a lot easier to understand and solve than the one you've been presented with.

The politicians should have said "make it clean" and left the engineers to work out how.
JH
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - type's'
I totally agree JH and also bow to Aprilia's more detailed knowledge and understanding on the subject on his thread above.
Another fine contribution from the man - I hate him. (only joking)
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Lud
JH: can't help wondering whether there was a closed-doors, boardroom and cocktail party decision-making process behind catalysers that had, er, serious economic interests to put it pusillanimously, as a or the dominant element. Not ignorance: orders.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - JH
Lud,
surely not! :-)
JH
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Lud
No, surely not :o}

Conspiracy? Not a chance. Stupidity every time.

Smirk.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - scott1s
Is it not the case that bovine passing wind that emits more greenhouse gases than cars? Dont see anyone running to fit catalysts to cows backsides. . . . . . . .
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Armitage Shanks {p}
Scott1s. When did you meet my ex-wife?
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Micky
LJK would be pleased to see that his scribblings are being minutely analysed after his demise ;-)
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Lud
Actually I think he wd be pleased to have stimulated an interesting discussion.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - bell boy
at the end of the day it was californi.a that started this emmissions nonsense that made manufacturers go down the catalytic route are they not doing the same at the moment?,a lot of long haired hippies that are one of the richest regions in the world that live in a valley drive the biggest guzzlers then complain when they get smog
I am not an LJK knocker but i dont see him as a super guru either,sorry guys.

catalyst =..............(Greek: καταλύτης, catalytēs) is a substance that decreases the activation energy of a chemical reaction (see also catalysis) without itself being changed at the end of the chemical reaction.
or in my days when i did chemistry it speeds up a process.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Aprilia
NOI, but a lot of what is spouted above is nonsense.

First off, three-way cats (TWCs) are nothing to do with reducing Greenhouse gasses - they are there to reduce three toxic emissions (NOx, HC and CO).

Oxidation techniques are OK for reducing HC and CO, but you are then left with NOx (acid rain, asthma etc etc). EGR reduces combustion temp and therefore NOx, but can only be used under certain operating conditions. The TWC is a good solution in that it promotes an oxidation-reduction reaction and if the mixture can be maintained at stochiometric (via uP contoller directed by the signal from the lambda sensor) then, with appropriate convertor capacity (to smooth mixture fluctuations from the 'bang bang' nature of the controller) you get almost 'perfect' emissions (i.e. H20 and C02) from the tailpipe. Moreover the catalyst has a long life and can fairly easily be recycled. Drivability is also very good.

Years back I worked on a prototype lean-burn system fitted to an Escort. Basically it used the second-derivative of crankshaft speed to determine changes in piston acceleration and hence give a measure of combustion quality. The system would then lean-off till it reached a misfire threshold (say a few %). Unfortunately the drivability of these lean burn systems was very poor and NOx emissions were quite high.

TWC's have been a very successful technology and were undoubtedly the best solution at the time. A modern vehicle has about 1% the emissions of a 35 year old 'uncontrolled' car.

Various other technologies are continuously being worked on (lots of SAE publications) to bring emissions down still further - but current petrol engine emissions are so low that it is difficult to make significant improvement at sensible cost, hence the increased interest in evaporative emissions and self-monitoring of the emission control system (i.e. second EGO after the cat etc).

LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Lud
i dont see him
as a super guru either,sorry guys.


om, this is not a domain where supergurus roam.

a) cars despite their strategic centrality to the world economic 'system' are small beer.

b) supergurus? Dontcha just mistrust'em?
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - cheddar
In the early 90s Rover demonstrated how a non cat lean burn Metro 16v K-Series GTi could be tuned to produce less CO, CO2 and NoX than a cat equipped equivalent car, one of the TV progs, Top Gear IIRC (or perhaps Tomorrows World), took both cars for a run over a fixed route and agreed that the lean burn car was better to drive, more economical and cleaner, the government didn't listen.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - Aprilia
In the early 90s Rover demonstrated how a non cat lean
burn Metro 16v K-Series GTi could be tuned to produce less
CO, CO2 and NoX than a cat equipped equivalent car, one
of the TV progs, Top Gear IIRC (or perhaps Tomorrows World),
took both cars for a run over a fixed route and
agreed that the lean burn car was better to drive, more
economical and cleaner, the government didn't listen.


The K-series was originally designed with the option to operate lean burn and had the facility (in the early head castings) for the required pressure sensors. A lot of money was spent on lean-burn (not just by Rover) and no engine was ever produced which (under properly controlled conditions) could meet the required low emissions spec. "The Government" was therefore wise to ignore the demo on Top Gear.

In the early 1990's Toyota developed a neat 'hybrid learn burn' technology using a wide-range lambda sensor ('UEGO') which gave a fairly linear output from about 12:1 to about 22:1, combined with 'swirl valves' in the inlet passages this enabling lean cruising - this was used in the Carina E.
LJK on . . . catalytic converters - cheddar
and no engine was ever
produced which (under properly controlled conditions) could meet the required low
emissions spec. "The Government" was therefore wise to ignore the demo
on Top Gear.


IIRC the Rover lean burn demo was endorsed by various associations and trade bodies (the likes of MIRA, SMMT and perhaps Cranfield) as being cleaner than catalyst however the required emissions had been written for cat equipped cars and had been written in stone.

The amount of petrol, and therefore carbon (in today's carbon trading terms), that would have been saved if all petrol cars over the last 15 years had been lean burn and not cat is almost incalculable.

Furthermore a catalytic converter has a fairly large carbon footprint at the point of manufacture.
 

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