In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about the role of a catalytic converter and its corresponding chemical reactions within a vehicle. Students will learn about both oxidation and reduction reactions as well as the purpose of a catalyst.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to
- Describe the main function of a catalytic converter.
- Define catalyst and provide examples of typical catalysts that are used in a catalytic converter.
- Explain how a catalyst effects a chemical reaction.
- Differentiate between an oxidation and reduction reaction.
This activity supports students’ understanding of
- Chemical Reactions
- Activation Energy
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 10 minutes
- No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- The Catalytic Converters video was developed as a part of the 2016 AACT-Ford, Chemistry of Cars content writing team project, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. The entire video series can be found here.
- Additionally, 19 lesson plans related to the Chemistry of Cars theme were developed by the content writing participants. You can learn even more about this project by reading an article from the September 2016 issue of Chemistry Solutions, written by the lead teacher involved in this project.
- The running time of this video is approximately four minutes.
- This video is intended for students to watch, and for teachers to integrate into their curriculum.
- The student questions/answers are presented in sequential order in the video.
- An answer key has also been provided for teacher reference.
- Videos can be shown with the use of a classroom projector, or teachers can generate a Student Video Pass through their AACT membership to allow students to independently access the video.
For the Student
While watching the Chemistry of Cars Video about Catalytic Converters, answer the following questions:
- What type of molecules do catalytic converters break down?
- Catalytic Converters are named after catalysts, what is a catalyst?
- What precious metals are typically used in catalytic converters?
- Even though some reactions can occur on their own, a catalyst may _______ the energy barrier required to complete the reaction.
- Does the catalyst get used up during a reaction? Why is this convenient?
- What 2 categories of reactions do catalytic converters fall under
- Carbon Monoxide is _________ and NOx is ___________ during these reactions.
- Oxidation and Reduction reactions are often abbreviated as what?
Bonus: If combustion reactions produce Carbon dioxide and water, which are relatively harmless, how do other pollutants like CO and NOx form which need to be oxidized and reduced by catalytic converters. (hint, think in terms of stoichiometry).