Fitting type-approved catalysts to vehicles from 2001 onwards become mandatory in the UK during 2009. A principle aim of this legislation was to limit the amount of harmful NOx released into the atmosphere by the ever growing number of cars on Britain’s roads. The VW emissions investigation has created more public awareness of the subject, but it is worth underlining what a difference type-approval makes.
Doug Bentley, Head of Research and Development at Klarius Products Ltd explains the importance of type-approved CATs for the environment and to the motorist.
Vehicle type-approval is the quality control measure which is used to ensure aftermarket automotive component parts meet the same performance and quality standards as the original equipment fitted to motor vehicles when they are manufactured. There is a test and certification process for all those parts carried out in each country, in the UK it is the Vehicle Standards Agency (VCA) that controls the tests, issues certificates and polices the policy.
The law states that it is illegal to sell non-type approved CATs for vehicles registered after the 1st March 2001. All diesel particulate filters (DPFs) must be type approved.
Each product that qualifies must have a type-approval certificate available as proof that it meets these standards. Klarius works closely with the VCA to type-approve its products and is one of the only UK manufacturers to type-approve all its exhaust CAT and DPF systems.
Type-approval dictates that by matching, or indeed improving on the equivalent original manufacturer’s part, the emissions control function of the CAT is higher than that required by say the standard MOT test for example. One of the main reasons for the directive with regards emissions was to promote air quality and limit the amount of harmful gases released into the atmosphere from automobiles.
The main culprits are Carbon Monoxide (CO) resulting from incomplete combustion of fuel. Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) which are produced in any combustion process,
And Hydrocarbons (HCs) which are emitted from vehicle exhausts as unburnt fuel, which is where the tune and condition of your engine is important. These all interact with each other and the air around us to create a toxic atmosphere.
NOx gases are formed during a reaction between nitrogen and oxygen and in the case of combustion engines, hydrocarbons. NOx is formed at high temperatures, and naturally occurs during lightning strikes and is abundant in the Ozone layer of our atmosphere. At lower atmospheric levels however, NOx can be incredibly damaging, reacting in the air to create smog, pollution particles and an increase in the pH of rain water. A higher quantity of NOx in the stratosphere also contributes to the global warming phenomenon.
Type-approved catalytic converters (CATs) were introduced as mandatory in the UK to limit the emission of these harmful gases. CATs act as flow-through devices, channelling harmful exhaust gases through either a ceramic or metallic monolith, prompting a reaction which cleanses the gas stream. This reaction is attained by coating the CAT monolith with a precious metals (ideally a mix of rhodium, platinum and palladium) which serves to convert Nitrogen oxides to less harmful Nitrogen gas during operation. A wash coat is also added to the monolith to encourage the reaction and improve the durability of the precious metals contained within.
However some motorists are still, usually unwittingly, having CATs that wouldn’t meet a genuine type-approval test fitted to their vehicles, which due to a number of factors, not only exponentially increase NOx emissions but also damage their vehicles performance and compliance.
Past a certain threshold, if a CAT is a lot cheaper than the mainstream alternatives then it is likely not to be able to pass a genuine type-approval test. This is usually achieved via a drop in CAT manufacturing quality in a number of areas. Most common is the inadequate use of precious metal coating and wash on the CAT monolith. As rhodium, palladium and platinum are relatively expensive – manufacturers of poor quality CATs typically cut corners with the quantities applied to slash manufacturing costs. This reduces the effectiveness of the reaction within the CAT, greatly increasing the amount of harmful gas released from the exhaust system.
Another typical issue is the size of the monolith incorporated into the CAT casing. Another strategy to reduce costs, this can result in the internal monolith shrinking to 50% of its OEM standard. This of course reduces the contact surface area in which the exhaust gases can react, consequently increasing the overall toxicity of exhaust emissions as less gas is able to react.
By not fitting a catalyst that adheres to type-approved or OEM standards of performance, motorists can expect dash warning lights to illuminate and risk their vehicle failing the emissions test that forms a crucial part of the MOT. Vehicles failing to achieve these standards will be deemed un-roadworthy by assessors, with owners required to source replacement and repeat the MOT test.
To avoid such cost to the environment and wallet, selecting a well-established brand with tight quality control is vital. Furthermore, being prepared to pay for a quality replacement can ensure that the issue of replacement never arises again. Typically a CAT should last the lifetime of a vehicle, so a type-approved replacement that operates at OEM levels should ensure complete security.
Klarius Products has its own dedicated design, research and development centre and test track at the company’s manufacturing centre in Cheadle, Staffordshire. The entire Klarius Products CAT range is type-approved, certificated by an independent body, and each CAT carries a unique type-approval number.
Furthermore, due to producing products for specific makes and models, Klarius offer a ‘Fit First Time’ guarantee on their entire product range. This practice allows Klarius to offer customers aftermarket emissions products that operate at OEM levels or higher. Such levels of quality control designate that Klarius CATs contain a suitable amount of precious metal coating, an OEM standard monolith and are manufactured from high quality metals.
Fitting a type-approved CAT from a trusted manufacturer not only ensures reliability, but also conformance with regards to protecting air quality. Specifying an inferior CAT can lead to increased costs for motorists in the long term, and will undoubtedly damage the atmosphere. Regulation not only serves to protect the environment, but also the interests of motorists in the marketplace. Therefore selecting a trusted manufacturer with quality manufacturing procedures and relevant certification can lead to ultimate peace of mind for end users.