How Much Palladium is in A Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters help to convert harmful substances like nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide to less dangerous substances. The chemical reaction of converting the toxins occurs in the catalytic converter then they escape to the environment through the exhaust system.

The catalytic converter consists of palladium, platinum, and rhodium, which helps convert the toxins to less harmful elements. These metals have their unique features and have different significant roles.

In this article, we will focus on palladium. Palladium converts carbon monoxide to less harmful substances before emitting them to the environment.

So, how much palladium is in a catalytic converter?

On average, a catalytic converter has about 2 to 7 grams of palladium. However, the quantity varies with the catalytic converter model. There are both small and large catalytic converters, but the amount of palladium in the catalytic depends on its function.

At the same time, the quantity of rhodium and platinum in a catalytic converter is rationed to match the amount of palladium. So, in every 2 to 7 grams of palladium, there are 3 to 7 grams of platinum and 1 to 2 grams of rhodium.

Do you want to understand palladium better? This article has all the details.

What Is Palladium and Its Role?

Palladium (Pd) is a chemical component with atomic number 46. Palladium is a rare, shiny silver-white metal and a member of the platinum group.

Even though palladium has the same chemical components as other metals of the platinum group, it is the least dense and has the lowest melting point.

In the automobile industry, palladium is helpful in catalytic converters in converting dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons to less harmful substances.

The toxic gases are converted into carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapour then released into the environment. Palladium has a high demand in the automobile industry, especially in cars with engines that use petroleum.

Even though people are recently switching to electric vehicles, palladium’s demand is still high; hence, its value increases. Palladium is vital since it neutralizes toxic elements to carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Palladium is also valuable for electronics, hydrogen purification, medicine, jewellery, water treatment, and chemical applications.

In addition, palladium is also a significant element of fuel cells, it reacts hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity, water and heat.

How Much Palladium Is in a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are very costly because of the precious metals that make them up, rhodium, platinum and palladium.

A catalytic converter has 2-7 grams of palladium on average, although the amount varies by the catalytic converter’s model. The catalytic converter also has 1-2 grams of rhodium and 3-7 grams of platinum.

The higher the quantity of palladium in a catalytic converter, the more costly the catalytic converter; For instance, on average, 1 gram of palladium will cost you $73.75, and an ounce costs $2,130.

However, the costs of palladium always change because of market fluctuation. Also, other factors might affect the price of the palladium, like extracting palladium from the catalytic converter is very costly.

So, how do you extract palladium from a catalytic converter?

Here are the steps to guide you

  • Cut away the ceramic parts of a catalytic converter from the exhaust system.
  • Grind the parts in the ball bearing until the texture becomes like flour.
  • Put the mixture into reaction with hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the leach tank. Palladium and platinum will dissolve in the acid.
  • Filter the acid and separate it from the ceramic.
  • Precipitate and filter platinum and palladium that had dissolved in the acid.
  • Now recycle the platinum and palladium mixture separately as platinum and palladium.

That way, you will have successfully extracted palladium from the catalytic converter.

Vehicles that use petrol have perfect catalytic converters but are very costly. This is why you will find that most petrol cars are likely to be a target for thieves more than diesel vehicles. The thieves target such cars to sell the catalytic converters for extracting palladium.

Why is Palladium Preferred?

Modern gasoline engines operate at high temperatures of up to 1300 C.

Palladium is now preferred over platinum because its efficiency increases with temperature, while platinum forms a solid mass material at very high temperatures.

Therefore, substitution is not an issue of altering the chemical composition of the catalyst wash coat. It needs a particular redesigning of the exhaust system for cooling the catalyst leading to probably worsening fuel efficiency for reducing the temperature.

Looking at the substitution from the maker’s perspective, you will find that they are more concerned with future prices other than the spot price.

Also, palladium surfaces are perfect catalysts for chemical reactions that involve hydrogen and oxygen, like hydrogenating unsaturated organic compounds.

Palladium is also very reactive compared to other metals in the platinum group. For instance, palladium is readily attacked more by acids compared to other platinum metals.

Why Are These Cat Converters Targeted?

Waste Advantage Magazine reports that, on average, a catalytic converter contains approximately 3 and 7 grams of platinum, 2 to 7 grams of palladium, and 1 to 2 grams of rhodium. Platinum costs about $30 per gram in June 2022, while palladium and rhodium cost approximately $60 and $440 per gram, respectively.

Considering these costs reveals that a standard cat converter may include anywhere between $90 and $210 for platinum, $120 and $420 value for palladium, and $440 and $880 worth for rhodium. Depending on the type, this gives the typical catalytic converter the value of a precious metal ranging from the low hundreds to over $1,500.

Although a catalytic converter may include precious metals with a four-figure market value, a thief is not often aware of these prices. Frequently, they sell to a recycler, who then sells the materials to a company that can recover the metals.

Even if a thief is likely to get under half of the amount, the task is worthwhile because they can obtain over $500 for some models with only a few minutes of effort. The contents and amounts of valuable metals, particularly catalytic converters, are well-documented, frequently resulting in a greater theft rate for certain types.

Its not a coincidence that the Toyota Prius from the mid-2000s is frequently targeted in these thefts. Known as the GD3 model, it contains one of the catalytic converters with the highest concentration of precious metals. Currently, Ecotrade Group identifies this model as a best-seller with a market rate of more than $600.

Similar proportions of these valuable metals are found in other cars of the era, for example, a  Chevy Trailblazer, which has a catalytic converter that may earn more than $400, according to the same recycling business. Thieves may simply crawl underneath the car with a rechargeable saw to remove the visible catalytic converter from taller vehicles, such as the Trailblazer, because they do not have to jack them up. However, not all catalytic converters are created equally, as we observe prices far below $100 for some Toyota and Chevrolet catalytic converters from the same year.

What is the difference between palladium and rhodium?

Palladium is white gold metal, and is primarily used because of its less probability of reacting to sensitive skin than nickel alloys. On the other hand, rhodium covered with white gold is a layer of tough, precious, diamond white metal over an alloy of white gold.

What is more expensive, palladium or rhodium?

Rhodium is now worth more than two times the price of palladium with the recent 30% increase in prices.

However, rhodium has not gotten much attention from potential investors. Since rhodium is corrosion resistant, it is helpful in a car’s catalytic converter as a material for electrical contact.

How much palladium is in a Prius catalytic converter

Prius catalytic converter contains 6 grams of precious metals, that is, around 2 grams each. Rhodium costs about $370 per 1 gram, palladium costs $76 a gram, and platinum is worth $30 a gram.

Final Thoughts

A catalytic converter is one of the most costly parts of your vehicle, and it costs up to $1,000. The catalytic converters have precious metals that help in chemical reactions to eliminate harmful components from the exhaust gases.

Palladium is one of the precious metals in the catalytic converter and covers a more significant part compared to platinum and rhodium. Palladium is an essential component and helps neutralize toxic elements.

Concerned about how much palladium is in a catalytic converter? Well, there is 2-7 grams of palladium in a catalytic converter, but it will depend on the model of the car, and one gram of palladium on average costs $73.75.

It is important to note that, the value of palladium keeps increasing due to its high demand in the automobile industry.


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