Catalytic Converter Recycling

What is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is a device that is used to convert harmful exhaust gases, like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, from an internal combustion engine into less harmful gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide and water vapor, before they are released into the atmosphere. The converter is usually located in the exhaust system, between the engine and the muffler. The converter contains a catalyst, which is a substance that helps to speed up the chemical reaction that takes place inside the converter. The catalyst is usually made of platinum or palladium or other precious metals.

Catalytic Converters are utilized by nearly every vehicle out on the roads today. Starting in the 1970’s catalytic converters became a mandated device to control emissions and significantly reduce the toxins, such as carbon monoxide gas, in the exhaust system. Through reduction and oxidation the catalytic converter reduces the toxic constituents with Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), such as Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium. The harmful pollutants are converted into less harmful carbon dioxide emissions before the leave through the car’s exhaust system. A large portion of platinum group metal usage is through the car industry and recycling materials has become profitable and important.

How to Recycle Catalytic Converters

First things first and probably the most common question is exactly how do you recycle one? There are many companies that now deal in catalytic converter recycling and have streamlined the process for the most convenience and ease. The core buyer will first grade it and a price will be given. Keep it intact, don’t remove the honeycomb. The buyer will need information from the case or outer shell that impacts the price you are offered.

The Benefits of Recycling Your Catalytic Converter

The benefits are many and varied. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it helps to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill sites. Every year, millions of tons of waste are produced, and a significant proportion of this is made up of catalytic converters. By recycling these converters, we can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill sites, and this is good for the environment.

Beyond keeping more out of landfills, the salvaging and reuse of precious metals means less needs to be mined form the earth. It also means these often toxic metals will not be left to leech into groundwater and pollute our environment even more. Precious metals from the recycling and recovery processes include palladium, platinum, and rhodium.

The Process of Recycling a Catalytic Converter

The recycling process of a catalytic converter begins by removing the converter from the vehicle it was installed in. Once the converter is removed, the next step is to remove any valuable metals that are inside of it. The most common metals found in a catalytic converter are palladium, rhodium, and platinum. These metals are all very valuable and are often used in the manufacturing of new catalytic converters.

A catalytic converter is recycled by breaking it down into its component parts. The first step is to remove the ceramic substrate from the metal housing. The substrate is then crushed and the metal is separated from the ceramic. The metal is then melted and cast into new catalytic converters.

The recycling process continues by sorting the recyclables by type. This is usually done by hand, but can also be done by machine. After the recyclables are sorted, they are cleaned to remove any contaminants. This is usually done with water and soap. Once the recyclables are clean, they are shredded or chopped into smaller pieces. This makes it easier to recycle them into new products.

How To Properly Dispose of a Catalytic Converter

Usually, your repair shop or mechanic will handle properly recycling materials such as your converter if it is being replaced or repaired, they have recycling costs which will be reflected in your bill. If not, a salvage or scrap metal yard is the best option or you may find a catalytic converter recycler near you that may pay top dollar for the precious metal they’ll collect.

Signs That Your Catalytic Converter Is Not Functioning Properly:

There are a few telltale signs to look out for if you think your converter may be clogged or going bad. We’ll list the most common signs to look out for:

  • Engine misfiring
  • Loss of power while accelerating or going uphill
  • Rattling noises from under your car
  • A sulfur smell from your exhaust or darker exhaust smoke. A working catalytic converter will convert hydrogen sulfide into odorless sulfur dioxide. You may notice a sulfur smell coming from your exhaust. Unburnt fuel left in the exhaust produces the odor and may even cause dark exhaust smoke.
  • A failed emissions test may be caused by a clogged or damaged catalytic converter. You must get it checked by a professional and repaired so that only carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen gas is being emitted as it should be.

Facts And Stats

  1. Catalytic converters are made from platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
  2. Recycling catalytic converters can be profitable because these metals are rare and expensive.
  3. There are a few ways to recycle, including smelting, chemical processing, and thermal decomposition.
  4. Smelting is the most common method of recycling converters.
  5. In smelting, the converter is placed in a furnace and the metals are melted down and separated.
  6. Chemical processing involves dissolving the metals in acids and then separating them using electrolysis.
  7. Thermal decomposition involves breaking down the converter into its component parts using heat.
  8. The recycling rate for catalytic converters in the United States is about 50-60%.
  9. It is estimated that there are over 100 million scrap catalytic converters in the world.
  10. The average lifespan of a catalytic converter is about 10 years or 100,000 miles.
  11. There are over 25,000 different types of catalytic converters.
  12. The cost of recycling a catalytic converter can range from $20 to $200.
  13. The value of the metals inside can range from $10 to $50.
  14. The most common metals used are palladium, platinum, and rhodium.
  15. Catalytic converters can weigh anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds.
  16. The majority of catalytic converters contain a ceramic honeycomb substrate.


How much is a catalytic converter worth scrap?

The average scrap value is between $300 and $1500 in precious metals. This component is one of the most expensive parts on your car. Catalytic converter recycling can be a profitable endeavor.

How can I get money for a catalytic converter?

The first and usually the best place to look to for catalytic converter recycling would be a local scrap yard. Yards that deal in scrap catalytic converter recycling tend to offer more cash because they are looking at the platinum group metals value instead of an old car part. A quick search for a local catalytic converter recycling center will usually turn up an option or two. Give them a call and see what their going rate is for your specific type.

What vehicles pay the most for scrap catalytic converters?

Ferraris and Lamborghinis have the most expensive catalytic converters, some less exotic vehicles include the Ram 2500 and Ford F250, or any large truck really including GMC. Even Hyundai converters bring a decent price as scrap. The truth is they are generally an expensive part no matter what, and the precious metals are highly valuable in every type.

Are old catalytic converters worth anything?

Short answer is yes, even the older ones are worth something. Now that being said the value is much less than newer ones and it depends on the condition and the type of converter, but you can expect between $50-$100 for even older ones if taken to a scrap yard. It also still relates to the current price of the platinum group metals.

What are the most valuable catalytic converters to scrap?

The most valuable include those out of large trucks like the F250, Ram, and Silverados. Some others that carry a hefty price include the Land Rover and the Prius.

What are the most valuable catalytic converters to steal?

Exotic vehicles such as Lamborghini and Ferraris are the most valuable if stolen, however not the most commonly stolen. Coming in close behind are large trucks, and Land Rovers and also the Prius. Larger work trucks are the most common vehicles to have converters stolen, as they are much more common and easy to flip and sell off. Any and all trucks such as Ram, Silverado, F series trucks are commonly at the top of the list for most valuable and most often stolen.

After trucks there are the Prius, Toyota Camry, Honda CRV, and Honda Accords as high targets for theft.

Who pays the most for catalytic converters?

A scrap yard that exclusively deals in catalytic converter recycling may be your best option to get the highest price. They have the necessary tools and knowledge to give you an accurate and fair price.

How are metals recycled in catalytic converters?

The three most common precious metals recycled include palladium, platinum, and rhodium. These are the metals that provide the breakdown of platinum and palladium hydrocarbons into water vapor and carbon dioxide. Rhodium converts nitrogen oxides as well. The honeycomb portion is ground into a fine powder and then placed into a chemical solution. This substance separates the platinum and palladium and rhodium precious metals from the rest. The rest of the material is catalytic converter scrap.

Can you make money recycling catalytic converters?

Short answer is yes! Nearly any catalytic converter, at any age, off any vehicle is worth something. There are some challenges to making the recycling effort profitable, but more and more companies are popping up to make money at this venture. If a scrap metal yard already has systems in operation to collect, separate, and abide by proper disposal protocols, then accepting converters for recycling would definitely make sense. Rhodium price alone is currently over $13,000 per ounce, and rarely if ever falls below $10,000.

What are the markets for the end products?

The markets for the end products are very diverse. They include everything from the retail market for consumer products to the industrial market for raw materials and components. The end products can be used for a variety of purposes, including manufacturing, construction, and packaging. There is also a large market for recycled materials as ore production costs are greater than recycling costs.

What are the environmental benefits of recycling catalytic converters?

Recycling provides many environmental benefits. One benefit is that it reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Catalytic converters can contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the ground and contaminate water supplies. Recycling converters helps to prevent this contamination. Another benefit is that recycling converters helps to conserve resources. Converters are made from metals that must be mined from the earth.

What are the costs associated?

The cost of recycling a catalytic converter can vary depending on the type of converter and the amount of precious metals it contains. The most common type of converter is the platinum converter, which can contain up to 80% of the precious metal. The cost of recycling a platinum converter can range from $50 to $200, depending on the market value of platinum.

Are there any health risks associated with recycling catalytic converters?

Yes, there are some health risks associated with recycling them. The most common health risk is exposure to lead, which can be harmful to the brain and nervous system. Other health risks include exposure to other heavy metals such as cadmium and chromium, which can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and gastrointestinal problems.

What are the regulatory requirements?

There are a number of regulatory requirements for recycling catalytic converters. The first is that the converters must be properly labeled. This label must include the name and address of the recycler, as well as the date the converter was received. The second requirement is that the converter must be cleaned before it is recycled. The third requirement is that the converter must be tested to ensure that it is still functional. Finally, the converter must be disposed of in an approved manner.

How does recycling a catalytic converter help the environment?

When a vehicle is running, the catalytic converter helps to reduce harmful emissions from the engine by converting them into less harmful substances. Over time, the catalytic converter can become clogged with soot and other deposits, which can reduce its efficiency. Recycling the catalytic converter can help to restore its efficiency, and in turn, help to reduce harmful emissions from the vehicle.

The precious metals used can also be reused and kept from landfills, the platinum group metals should not be left to leech into groundwaters either.

How much does it cost to recycle a catalytic converter?

The cost to recycle a catalytic converter can vary depending on the type of converter and the amount of precious metals it contains. For example, a lead-acid converter can cost around $20 to recycle, while a platinum-based converter can cost upwards of $200. A scrap catalytic converter will bring more profit via the precious metal than the cost of recycling the materials, and disposing of hazardous materials.

What are the challenges of recycling catalytic converters?

There are many challenges associated. The most significant challenge is the cost. They can be very expensive to purchase new, so recycling them can be a great way to save money. However, the process of recycling them can be costly and time-consuming. Another challenge is that catalytic converters can be difficult to remove from vehicles. They are often located in hard-to-reach places, and they can be very heavy. A scrap metal yard familiar with collecting, separating and processing recyclable materials can fairly easily adjust to accept scrap vehicles for the purpose of obtaining used catalytic converter. A scrap car can have hundreds of dollars worth of precious metals to be collected.

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