940 L4-2.3L SOHC VIN 88 B230F (1992)
Catalytic Converter: Description and Operation
Fig. 7 Three Way Catalytic Converter
The three way catalytic converter removes up to 90% of the three major pollutants, (HC, CO, and oxides of nitrogen).
The catalytic converter consists of a metal housing, a ceramic grid substrate, and a catalytic coating of platinum and rhodium. The active metal
content is about 2 grams of platinum/rhodium.
A complete catalytic reaction depends on the fuel mixture staying within a very narrow range (+/- 1% of 14.7:1) which can only be achieved with a
properly functioning oxygen sensor system.
As exhaust gases containing HC and CO pass through the converter, the platinum catalyst starts the oxidation (burning) process. The HC and CO
unite with oxygen to form water vapor and carbon dioxide. This oxidation process has no effect on the NOx emissions.
To reduce the oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a separate reaction called "reduction" is necessary. A reduction reaction is the removal of oxygen from a
material. In Three-Way type converters, rhodium is used as the catalyst to break down oxides of nitrogen into its components, nitrogen and
The effective conversion of pollutants begins at an operating temperature of about 250°C (480°F). The ideal operating temperature for maximum
conversion and long service life is 400°C - 800°C (750°F - 1500°F).
Engine malfunctions, for example misfires, can cause the temperature of the converter to increase to more than 1400°C (2500°F). Such extreme
temperatures may destroy the converter by melting the substrate material.
The use of leaded fuel will permanently render the converter ineffective. Lead compounds used in leaded fuels are deposited in the pores
and on the surfaces of the active material, reducing or eliminating exposure of active material to the exhaust gases. Excessive engine oil
residues can also ruin the catalyst.