The beginning of cat regulations…

The catalytic converter has been with us since the introduction of new regulation in the 1970s. There were more and more concerns over toxic emissions from vehicle engines; and this first started to impact manufacturers. That is how they introduced the catalytic converter. This emissions control device aimed to reduce the level of toxic pollutants released into the atmosphere. To do so, it uses a mix of precious metals – Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium – as catalysts in the process. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency mandated that, from 1975, all new car models must contain a catalytic converter; the solution to comply with stricter regulations of exhaust emissions.

Since then, most countries in the world have followed those cat regulations. This was also a result of the recognition by governments of the negative impact on the environment from harmful materials released into the atmosphere. Over the decades, stiffer and wider legislation has followed leading to ever-changing demands on the automobile industry.


An increase in the number of cars worldwide

At the same time, the market for cars has expanded enormously. Therefore, the manufacturers have responded with new makes and models in what is a highly competitive market. Thus, in the forty or so years since the first catalytic converter was introduced, the number of types of CAT’s has increased disproportionally – more car models and new legislation have necessitated an ongoing change.

This wide range of cat specifications made accurate analysis and sampling critical to the recycling industry. Indeed, it enables us to determine the value of precious metal content, since precious metal contents used in each catalytic converter are different.

Add to this the fact that the three big emission regulators – Europe, USA, and Japan – have different criteria and may also, over time, stiffen up their emission controls and it is clear that the number of catalytic converter types is both large and growing. Other countries outside the top three will loosely affiliate with one or other of the top three, though not necessarily exclusively, and this adds to the confusion.