Volvo Catalytic Converters

Written by Charles Peacock
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Volvo has long been one of the most environmentally-friendly car manufacturers, and they currently use catalytic converters in all of their cars to reduce emissions. Catalytic converters do a great job of removing a lot of pollutants from your Volvo's engine exhaust, but they aren't flawless. Let's take a look at some of the weaknesses of catalytic converters, and how these weaknesses might be fixed in future Volvo models.

Catalytic Converters Are Temperature-Dependent

Did you know that your Volvo's catalytic converters won't work unless your car is warmed up? It's true--because the chemical processes used by the catalysts require a certain temperature level to function properly, your catalytic converter actually does nothing until after you've been driving the car for a few minutes. This is part of the reason why your car appears to be letting out a lot more exhaust immediately after you start it up on a cold morning.

How can this surprising deficiency of the catalytic converter be improved? One solution would be to move the catalytic converter closer to the engine block, so it is able to absorb heat more quickly and to begin doing its job. The problem with this is that the catalytic converter also can't get too hot. Putting it close to the engine is a catch-22: it will work great in the early stages of driving, but the constant high temperatures will eventually damage the catalytic converter.

The solution to temperature problems with a catalytic converter seems to be preheating. Current Volvo models unfortunately do not have electrical power to quickly warm up the catalytic converter, so installing a preheater wouldn't do much good. In addition, few people would be willing to wait a minute for the converter to warm up before hitting the road. The good news is that future electric and hybrid car models will probably have enough electrical power to quickly heat up the catalytic converter, solving the problem of inoperation in the first few minutes of driving.

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