Q:

Who buys used catalytic converters?

A:

Quick Answer

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.

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Full Answer

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.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How much platinum is in a catalytic converter?

    A:

    Platinum content in catalytic converters can differ significantly depending on the year the catalytic converter was fabricated and the type of vehicle. Small cars usually average 1 to 2 grams per car, while larger trucks can have as much as 12 to 15 grams.

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  • Q:

    How do you refine platinum in a catalytic converter?

    A:

    There are multiple ways to recover and refine the platinum in catalytic converters, but the processes vary in their simplicity and in the quality of platinum they produce. Mechanical methods are by far the easiest way to collect the platinum from catalytic converters, but they give low yields. Chemical methods provide the best yields, but they require using hazardous chemicals, expensive refining equipment and chemical expertise to work safely and effectively.

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  • Q:

    How does a catalytic converter work?

    A:

    Catalytic converters use a reduction and an oxidation catalyst organized in a honeycomb structure to react with the harmful emissions present in exhaust gas. The reduction catalyst converts nitrogen dioxide into nitrogen and oxygen, while the oxidation catalyst converts the unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.

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  • Q:

    What is catalytic converter recycling?

    A:

    Catalytic converter recycling is the process of removing valuable metals from a broken device, such as platinum, rhodium, and titanium, so they can be reused in other products. Because of the value of the minerals used in converters, recycling them can be very lucrative.

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