This Is What The Inside Of Your Catalytic Converter Looks Like In Action

Screenshot: Warped Perception (YouTube)

A catalytic converter is one of those car parts that you know how it works in theory, but you’re really never going to get a chance to see it in action unless you have some sort of crazy x-ray vision. But now that some wild human has sliced one in half, you too can see what that hidden bit of tech looks like.

To put it pretty simply, a catalytic converter is designed to trap and incinerate all kinds of harmful pollutants before your car spits them out of the exhaust. We’re talking things like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide—stuff that no one should be breathing in. By burning off all those harmful chemicals and unburnt fuel (by subjecting them to hundreds of degrees of temperature), emissions are seriously reduced.

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This post from Car Throttle goes way deeper into all the stuff that makes the catalytic converter what it is, but here are the basics:

The cat sits around a third of the way down the exhaust system and resembles a small metal chamber that receives exhaust gasses and changes the chemical nature of them to reduce the volume of nasty emissions fresh from the exhaust manifold. Within the cat housing is a ceramic-based honeycomb structure that is lined with extremely precious metals, with each metal having a specific job in emission-reduction.

There are diagrams and explainer videos all over the internet—but you don’t often get an actual view of what it all looks like inside with the engine running. That’s where Warped Perception’s new video comes in.

In the video, the cat is sliced in half and fitted with a clear screen before it’s hooked up to an engine. The honeycomb inside begins to glow red before bursting into flame. This, my friends, is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t be parking on top of piles of dried leaves or dead grass.

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Now, this is only a very general simulation. Slicing a car part in half and fitting it with a clear protective screen in a garage doesn’t simulate real-life conditions and, therefore, can fall subject to pretty intense scrutiny from the folks in the comment section. The key here is to have a sense of what the cat looks like when it’s working. Having a real-life visual is always a hell of a lot more exciting than just looking at diagrams—and Warped Perception’s video gives you a damn good idea of what your cat might look like after you’ve wrapped up a nice long road trip.

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About the author

Elizabeth Blackstock

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.