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Catalytic Converters

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1017
  • Category: Carbon

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Catalytic converters are used in cars to reduce pollution and toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide. Here are the reactions that happen inside a catalytic converter: 2NOx(g) → xO2(g) + N2(g) – this is the reduction of nitrogen oxides. 2CO(g) + O2(g) → 2CO2(g) – this is the changing of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. There are different views on catalytic converters. The two main views are the environmental view, and the economic view. The environmental view, not surprisingly, includes looking after the environment. They are generally in favour of catalytic converters, as they reduce pollution and poisonous gases, although they do still produce carbon dioxide. The other economic view doesn’t care about the environment. All they care about is the high performance of cars and vehicles, and how cheaply they can produce. As catalytic converters make the cost of producing cars go up, they are not in favour of catalytic converters. They help catalytic converters companies because they help them make money (obviously) particularly since it has become law that all new cars have to have a catalytic converter on them.

Some people have issues with catalytic converters because they feel that using up more resources than needed is wrong. However, catalytic converters still help the environment, so that issue is a difficult one to solve. It is not as if you can have sustainable metals like you can have sustainable forests. They have also been known to produce a ‘rotten egg’ smell, which is a social issue for some people. This has been improved since then, fortunately. A lot of decisions on the catalytic converters were made with economics in mind, such as the pricing and laws of them. They have to try and make catalytic converters cheaply, but they still have to work well. They did manage to do this, but they used platinum, a very expensive metal. They also used economics with laws – making it a law that all new cars had to have a catalytic converter included looking at how it would alter the price of a new car. (It raises the price) They not only had to balance economics but ethics too. Making the catalytic converters caused new questions to arise. Questions such as ‘Are catalytic converters really worth it?’ and ‘Will they affect the economy on a long-term basis?’

However, they also helped answer such questions as ‘Which gases cause the most pollution?’ and ‘Do vehicles contribute to land-based sulphur emissions?’ (Catalytic converters have actually helped to reduce this, as from since they were introduced, land-based sulphur emissions have dropped from 53 million tonnes to 14 million tonnes.) As a whole, catalysts have had a generally good effect on society. They have helped asthma sufferers, by reducing the amount of pollution, and environmentalists are able to use cars more as they produce less pollution. Unfortunately not everyone has benefited from catalytic converters. Some people would prefer to get rid of them to improve the performance of their car, and some people can no longer afford cars because of the rise in price that the catalytic converters have caused. However, this might also be argued as a good point, as fewer cars on the road means less pollution. It’s your own decision as to which side you take. The creators of catalytic converters may well have been influenced or pressured to develop or change them. Environmentalists would have pressured them to create them and then improve them so that they produce less and less pollution.

However, they would have been discouraged by people who want performance and who don’t care about pollution. They wouldn’t have wanted the catalytic converters to have been invented, or improved, and they certainly wouldn’t have wanted the law introduced that said that a new vehicle must have a catalytic converter on them. Quite a lot of people probably wouldn’t have wanted it actually, as it makes vehicles more expensive, and also a bigger target for thieves. People’s values would have influenced the development of catalysts, as people didn’t just base their decisions on money. Environmentalists did it purely for the environment; they value the protection of the world. Then there are ‘performance people;’ they believe in performance and dislike catalysts as they hinder the efficiency of the vehicle. Another major group that I didn’t mention earlier was the ‘bank balancers’ – they look after their money and don’t like catalytic converters as they cost more! The scientists have to battle against all three and have to try and please all, which is a very difficult thing to do. Catalytic converters have changed the world’s viewpoints.

Before they generally only cared about money and how cheaply they could produce things. But then catalytic converters taught them that if you spend a bit more money you can make a big difference. Every catalytic converter converts over 90% of harmful gases into less toxic carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapour. The main arguers are the environmentalists and the performance people. They have completely different views. The bank balancers will usually side with the performance people. Environmentalists like catalysts as they reduce pollution, but they would like them improved further as they still produce a lot of CO2, which scientists say is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Performance people don’t like them because they want performance and efficiency from their vehicle.

Bank balancers don’t like them because they cost more money. Unfortunately, there are some unintended consequences that may arise from catalytic converters. One example is the fact that they still produce a lot of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming quite a lot. They may also prevent people that would have otherwise would have bought a vehicle from buying vehicles because they increase prices. Overall, I think that catalysts have probably developed faster than they would have done because of environmentalists pressured them to improve them to reduce pollution. I don’t think that the performance and bank balancing people would have put much pressure on them though, so they wouldn’t have had as much of an effect.

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