How Much Rhodium is in A Catalytic Converter?

Vehicle emits toxic fumes but all thanks to catalytic converters, which control pollution to the environment. The exhaust system’s catalytic converters help filter the fumes before they are released into the environment.

The catalytic converters have essential elements like palladium, platinum, and rhodium, which clean the toxins. Rhodium is one component of a catalytic converter that is precious, rare, and costly due to its qualities.

Are you wondering how much rhodium is in a catalytic converter?

On average, the amount of rhodium in a catalytic converter is 1- 2 grams. It is also very costly, and one gram of rhodium costs $290.

In addition, there are 2-7 grams of palladium and 3-7 grams of platinum in the catalytic converter. In this regard, the standard weight for a catalytic converter is 2.2 pounds or 1.2 kilograms.

However, the amount will depend on the vehicle model and engine factors. A car with a similar engine might have a different catalytic converter depending on the country.

Do you want to learn more about rhodium in a catalytic converter? Read on

What is Rhodium?

Rhodium (Rh) is a chemical constituent with an atomic number of 45. Rhodium is one of the noble metals and is classified as a part of the platinum group. It is also a non-reactive metal and a rare one in that case.

Rhodium that occurs naturally is mainly found as a free metal or an alloy with other metals. It is obtained in minimal amounts as a byproduct of copper refining and nickel.

Rhodium is a significant catalyst in automobile catalytic converters.

Rhodium is a silvery-white toned, highly reflective, resistant to corrosion, hard, noble metal that is a member of the platinum group.

 How Much Rhodium is in A Catalytic Converter?
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Rhodium is primarily helpful as an alloy to harden platinum. Since it is very reflective, it gives jewelry an attractive finish and produces highly reflective surfaces for optical instruments.

When you combine rhodium and platinum, the platinum gets hard and loses weight at very high temperatures more slowly compared to the pure metal. Thus, the alloy is used to create catalysts in hot chemical surroundings, furnace crucibles, and spark-plug electrodes. In addition, the alloy can be used to manufacture nitric acid since it withstands high temperatures and acids. Because of its scarcity in nature and difficulty obtaining, rhodium is very costly.

Its Role?

Rhodium helps eco-driving by removing nitrogen oxide, the primary cause of acid rain. Three-way catalysts reduce the discharge of toxic pollutants into the environment by removing them from vehicle exhaust gas.

Using rhodium to convert acid-rain-causing nitrogen oxide into to nitrogen, platinum & palladium  burn hydrocarbons into water, & carbon monoxide back into carbon dioxide, converters emit harmless gases.

an image showing how the precious metals in cat converter work

Why is it So Expensive?

Due to pollution restrictions, the demand for rhodium has skyrocketed since it is used to purify vehicle exhaust. There is a supply shortage due to the increased demand from the automobile industry to fulfill stringent emissions regulations.

As a result, its price has doubled and is now higher than gold.  An ounce of rhodium is more expensive than automobiles such as the Kia Carnival, Tata Harrier, or Toyota Innova. Due to price fluctuations, this supply problem has resulted in catalytic converter theft in the United States.

As South Africa was the leading producer of rhodium, the closure of its mines has led to an increase in the price of the metal. The depletion of mined metal reserves has impacted the price of rhodium.

In addition, the providers are releasing a little amount of this precious metal into the market, resulting in a supply deficit that drives up the price of the commodities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the mining industry. South Africa was struck the worst, and several underground mines are still not completely operational.

Superpowers like China, Europe, and the United States demand more rhodium ore to fulfill the stringent standards for maintaining a clean environment. The strong demand affects the price of the metal. Moreover, its physical and chemical attributes are used in various industries, which increases its demand.

Rhodium is difficult to remove from its core, and its scarcity continues to affect its value. Its price changes significantly, and this volatility may be normal. Consequently, the expected prices may cause suppliers to withhold metal from the market, resulting in a shortage and further price hikes.

What Catalytic Converters Have the Most Rhodium?

Cars with large engines or vehicles with more than one catalytic converter have the most rhodium.

Since rhodium is costly, most cars with expensive catalytic converters also have more rhodium. Vehicles with catalytic converters are more prone to theft like Toyota Prius have an expensive catalytic converter.

Ferrari F430, Ford F-250, Lamborghini, Ford Mustang, and Ram 2500 also have relatively expensive converters. The cars have large engines hence the need for more catalytic converters.

Therefore, if a car needs more catalytic converters, it will probably need more rhodium metals. Alternatively, very large catalytic converters also require more rhodium to help clean the emitted fumes effectively.

 How Much Rhodium is in A Catalytic Converter?

From the figure above, the data represented in the pie chart, it’s evident that more than 50% of the rhodium mined across the world is used as an automobile catalyst with very few demands in chemical and jewellery sector.

Since rhodium helps clean toxins from the vehicle exhaust, its demand has also increased due to emission restrictions.

Rhodium now faces a deficit in supply because of its high demand from the automotive sector to meet the strict emission restrictions. Its low supply has made it very costly, and this issue has led to cases of theft of catalytic converters.

How much is Rhodium Worth in Scrap?

Rhodium is worth $13,000 in scrap.

It is, therefore, possible to recycle and sell your precious rhodium metal at a reasonably good price.

catalytic converter honeycomb precious metal

Platinum metal is worth $1,072 in scrap, and palladium is worth $ 2,002.Rhodium is very costly compared to other metals in the catalytic converter.

Most automotive manufacturers need more rhodium to meet the strict emission norms because it is corrosion-resistant. The high demand has impacted the increase in price for the metal. Rhodium is also challenging to obtain from the core, and its rareness has also affected its high cost.

In this regard, the price of rhodium is likely to keep increasing, leading to a deficit and more increase in price. There should therefore be more companies to sell scrap or old catalytic converters.

How to Get Rhodium Out of a Catalytic Converter

Like most materials, once a catalytic converter is approved at a recovery plant, it is graded and the reusable parts are separated. Once the metals have been separated, they may be sent to recycling plants for recycling.

Note: You should never try to strip a cat converter and its components on your own. Even if your vehicle is trash, the metal components of the converter are difficult to remove and potentially hazardous.

Cat converters isn’t a threat when not opened, the real threat comes when it’s opened and the ceramic blocks exposed to air. Therefore, it is essential to leave that job to professionals who have the required expertise and safety equipment.

The safest and efficient way to recycle catalytic converters is to take them to a metal recycling facility, or to arrange for their pickup.

To get rhodium out of a catalytic converter, you will follow this procedure;

  • Cut the ceramic components of the catalytic converter from the exhaust system.
  • Grind the ceramic parts in the ball-bearing mill till they flour.
  • Put the flour-like substance to react with hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the leach tank. Here, palladium and platinum will dissolve in the acid. Now, filter and separate acid from the ceramic.
  • You can precipitate and filter the mixture of palladium and platinum dissolved in the acid. Now you will recycle this mixture separately as palladium and platinum.
  • Your ceramic probably had rhodium, so it is now time to get the rhodium. Put the ceramic to react with sodium hydrogen sulfate (NaHSO4) in the fusion oven, and rhodium will transform to rhodium sulfate (RhSO4).
  • Dissolve the RhSO4 in water to separate sulfur monoxide from the ceramic. Now filter and separate the solution, then recycle rhodium from the solution through precipitation.

You will have obtained rhodium from your catalytic converter by following those simple steps.

Final Thoughts

Automotive manufacturers need catalytic converters due to strict guidelines on emissions. Catalytic converters filter toxic fumes from the exhaust system of the vehicles without negatively affecting the environment.

However, the catalytic converters are very costly due to the precious metals like rhodium which helps to clean the toxic fumes.

So, how much rhodium is in a catalytic converter?

Most catalytic converters, on average, have about 1-2 grams of rhodium. Although a gram might seem like a tiny amount to care about, one gram of pure rhodium will cost you $290. Besides being expensive, rhodium is also rare because of high demand from vehicle manufacturers.

However, getting scrap rhodium for your catalytic converter is now possible. Vehicles with more rhodium are prone to theft, so it would be best to protect your car from theft.


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