Refineries specializing in recycled precious metals and scrap automotive components typically buy used catalytic converters. As of 2014, prices range from $5 to over $100, depending on size, design, manufacturer, condition and age.
In some cases, even small scrap-metal buyers are happy to buy used catalytic converters for a considerable amount. Catalytic converters became a standard component in many vehicles in the 1975 model year. Manufacturers began including these devices in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on vehicle emissions. The purpose of a catalytic converter is to reduce hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions from the burning of gasoline and other fossil fuels. Catalytic converters can be found on both gasoline and diesel engines of all shapes and sizes, from vehicles and forklifts to fixed generators.
Used catalytic converters are particularly valuable as scrap, due to the reactive metal used to catalyze the unconsumed fuel particles. Common metals found in catalytic converters include platinum, palladium and rhodium, all of which are classified as precious metals that have relatively high melt values. As of October 2014, a single ounce of platinum on the New York Stock Exchange was valued at $1,233, with rhodium closing at $1,275 and palladium valued at $760.