What Is A Motorcycle Catalytic Converter?

Motorcycle Catalytic Converter
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In today’s day and age of global warming, it is important that all automobiles including motorcycles become responsible for their fuel emissions. In simple words, catalytic converters help in the decrease of fuel emissions that contain harmful and toxic contaminants.

So, the question arises do all motorcycles have catalytic converters installed in them? The answer is most of the modern motorcycle models have catalytic converters installed in their exhaust systems. However, not all of them have these converters that help reduce harmful fuel emissions.

However, it’s safe to say that with growing concerns of global warming, catalytic converters will soon be a standard norm for all motorcycles, worldwide.

In this guide we will discuss what exactly is a catalytic converter, how does it reduce harmful emissions, and we will also provide you with some useful tips to protect your motorcycle’s catalytic converters.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

As mentioned above, catalytic converters are specifically designed and installed in the exhaust pipes of motorcycles to reduce their harmful fuel emissions.

Gasoline is the type of fuel that most motorcycles use and this motorcycle gasoline consists of a component called hydrocarbons. In an ideal situation, these hydrocarbons react with oxygen and give out carbon-di-oxide (CO2) along with water (H2O).

But this is in an ideal situation and the combustion that takes place in the engine of a motorcycle is not perfect. Combustion involves a lot of heat generation in the engine and because of this heat, many reactions inside the engine remain incomplete as dirt and other impurities get mixed in the reaction.

This heat is responsible for creating several molecules of chemicals that usually do not occur under normal conditions. As a result of this ‘imperfect’ reaction, instead of CO2 and H2O, carbon monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) get released which are extremely harmful gases for our environment.

In scientific terms, these gases are known as Greenhouse gases and it is these gases that are responsible for causing damage to our environment and atmosphere in terms of causing acid rain, ozone layer depletion, global warming, etc.

Here, steps in the catalytic converters. The primary role of these converters is to reduce all kinds of harmful emissions that come out of the exhaust pipes of motorcycles.

Catalytic converters get their name from ‘Catalyst’ which are chemicals or elements that help in carrying out a chemical reaction. A catalytic converter consists of a catalyst that turns the molecules of harmful gases into comparably safer gases that do not damage our atmosphere to a greater extent.

How Does a Catalytic Converter Reduce Emission of Harmful Gases?

In order to understand exactly how a catalytic converter works, we will have to first know its components of it. A typical catalytic converter consists of two parts:

  • Ceramic
  • Rare Metals

Ceramic is a material that is non-reactive. This means it does not react with any chemicals that are present inside the gasoline or inside a heated motorcycle engine. The unique property of ceramic is that it has the ability to stay extremely hot when the engine gets heated up during combustion. The ceramic basically allows the chemical reactions to take place inside the catalytic converter in very high temperatures.

The next part of the process involves the rare metals. For example, Palladium (Pd), Rhodium (Rh), and Platinum (Pt) are some of the rare metals that are present inside a converter and it is these metals that act as catalysts for the reaction to complete.

Inside a catalytic converter, these rare metals are present in a very negligible volume like 3-7 grams. The Platinum and the Rhodium together act as Reduction Catalysts, while Palladium and Platinum together act as the Oxidation Catalysts.

The Reduction Catalyst plays the critical role of extracting Oxygen from Nitrogen Oxide and releases the gas as harmless and benign Nitrogen (N2). Simultaneously, the Oxidation Catalyst pulls in the freed-up Oxygen to make another harmful gas (carbon monoxide) a little less harmful in terms of turning it to carbon-di-oxide. Apart from this, the Oxidation Catalyst also plays an important role in turning all hydrocarbons that are left un-burnt into harmless carbon-di-oxide or water molecules.

When this process gets completed, harmful gases in the emission like un-burnt fuel contaminants, CO, and NOX gets converted into harmless components like CO2, N2, and H2O. As a result, the final emissions coming out of the exhaust pipe of a motorcycle remains much safer than otherwise, it would have been without a catalytic converter.

Now, you might think that climate change is an all-important reason for motorcycles and other automobiles to come equipped with some sort of harmful emission converter. But you will be surprised to know that although most modern bikes have them installed, there are still many bike manufacturers who haven’t yet taken a firm step in the direction of installing a converter.

Given the current condition of our green planet, it’s needless to say that sooner rather than later having catalytic converters installed in your bike, would be a standard global norm. So, you better move towards a safer and greener world today than be left with the harmful and useless ruins of tomorrow.

Tips to Protect Catalytic Converters

Just as a functioning catalytic converter can help you immensely in keeping your harmful level of fuel emissions low, a damaged or defective converter can, in fact, fast track the emission of harmful gases along with causing serious damage to your motorcycle engine.

So, if you have a faulty converter, it’s paramount that you fix the issue immediately. Here are a few tips to keep your catalytic converter protected at all times and give it a longer running life –

Always Settle for Unleaded Gasoline

This is the first and most important tip when it comes to the health of your beloved bike. If you want your engine as well as your catalytic converter to stay protected, never use leaded gasoline for it can seriously damage your converter and can result in the emission of more harmful and dangerous gases.

Keep Your Bike’s Engine in Good Working Condition

Always remember that the engine of your motorcycle is the soul of the bike. Therefore, any damage in the engine can result in either your catalytic converter not getting heated up properly or getting extremely heated up at the wrong time.

It is important to know that a catalytic converter works best in heated conditions but at the same time, it’s important that it does not get overheated. So, if you have a bad engine it can easily damage your converter or your vehicle.

Be Aware of Your Engine’s Misfiring or Stalling

If you are experiencing a problem with the engine of your motorcycle, for example, it’s not firing properly or it keeps stalling, immediately take your bike to a certified mechanic. Engine issues can be detrimental for the catalytic converter installed in your bike and therefore before it puts a hefty repair cost on you, you should take notice and look for fixing the issue professionally.

In addition to these aforementioned tips, remember the quality of fuel is also responsible for the health of your converter. So, if you want to protect your engine, catalytic converter, and your fuel-inject system, make sure you get gasoline that is:

  • Only Unleaded
  • Recommended for your bike with a certain Octane number. If you settle for gasoline with a lower octane number, it will for sure damage the performance level of your engine.
  • Low on the alcohol concentration
  • Free of any kind of contaminants or mixture of oil

Conclusion

In the end, just be mindful of your bike’s environmental safety and let catalytic converters do their work.

Plus, remember to take care of your engine as well as the fuel system so that you can prolong your bike’s life and save a lot of fuel costs in the long run. If you have a faulty converter, it’s paramount that you fix the issue immediately.

And also, keep moisture and dirt away from the engine of your bike as much as possible if you want longevity for the catalytic converters.

Happy & Safe Riding!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

Hi, I’m Daniel and behind me (in the photo) is my wife Sarah.

We are both travel addicts who love Motorcycles, Rock-Climbing and Camping.We love to explore everything the world has to offer

We will continue to provide even more valuable content that keeps you riding safely! Keep the rubber side down :-)

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