The answer is no, electric cars do not have catalytic converters. The majority of gasoline cars do have catalytic converters, though some countries do not require them.
You may be wondering how an electric car works, given that it does not have a catalytic converter. A catalytic converter is part of the system on most gas cars that reduces the toxicity of gases exiting the engine. When gasoline burns in the cylinders of your car’s engine it produces exhaust contain poisonous carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons (gasoline itself is actually very toxic). A catalytic converter takes care of this by using heat to convert these toxins into less harmful substances like water vapor and nitrogen.
Electric cars work differently than gasoline-powered ones. They are filled up at charging stations that use electricity from power plants to charge the vehicle—electricity that can come from coal or natural gas or other sources; however, the majority of charging stations use clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
The electric car engine produces no emissions (although the power plant that created the electricity may). Electric cars are truly zero-emission vehicles.
Electricity is fed into an electric motor—much like the one in your handheld vacuum cleaner—which powers the car. The battery recharges when you drive; it’s kind of like how a manual can opener works but with one big difference: an electric motor has to turn in order to produce motion whereas a hand crank doesn’t have to turn in order for you to open a can.
So, there you have it! An electric car does not have a catalytic converter because it runs on electricity rather than gasoline. It produces no emissions and is a true zero-emission vehicle.
Catalytic converters are catalysts used in internal combustion engines to convert toxic pollutants from gasoline fumes into less harmful emissions. In gasoline-powered cars, the chemical reaction used by a catalytic converter is necessary for the proper operation of your engine.
In electric vehicles, the chemical reactions do not take place using petroleum products, so a catalytic converter is not needed. It also wouldn’t do any good without a petroleum-powered motor.
A separate part called an evaporative emissions system does what a catalytic converter does in a car with an internal combustion engine: it cleans out polluting chemicals from the vehicle’s fuel system. And because electric vehicles do not use gas or diesel, they do not need components either.
The only other emission coming from an electric car is water vapor due to the humidity in the air. This is because an electric car works by converting electricity to mechanical energy. An electric vehicle charges up using electricity-supplying components called charging stations, then uses that electricity in the motor to turn the wheels.
The only “toxic” emissions coming from a fully charged electric car are low levels of pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide. According to the California Air Resources Board, these toxic emissions are greatly reduced compared to gasoline-powered engines; however, it recommends keeping your windows rolled up when charging or driving just in case.
That’s right, you can’t even plug in an electric car without worrying about polluting the environment.
Car batteries that aren’t fully charged produce hydrogen and oxygen through a process called electrolysis. This means electricity is used to separate water into its base elements of hydrogen and oxygen gas. When the battery is running low, it recombines these gases back into the water (H 2 O), but there are toxic byproducts like CO (carbon monoxide) and NO (nitrogen oxide). As long as your battery doesn’t run down to zero charges, the only thing coming out of your exhaust pipe will be H 2 0.
However, there may still be pollutants coming from electric cars – pollution at charging stations. Since these cars mostly rely on electricity from power plants, this raises the question of whether electric cars are really clean after all.
This is no doubt an important issue, but not enough to overshadow the benefits of electric cars. It should definitely be addressed by car manufacturers and policymakers alike, but it hasn’t stopped people from buying electric vehicles. The majority of automakers are still making them because that’s what consumers want.
Maybe you’d be interested in checking out some electric car chargers? They’re just like charging stations, except they don’t make your engine run; instead, they charge up your battery using electricity supplied by a power plant. And if you plug one in at home or work, you won’t have to worry about polluting either!
So what do you think? Are electric cars really clean, or are they just as bad for the environment as gasoline-powered vehicles? Can I use solar power to charge an electric vehicle? Learn more from EnergySage about solar charging your electric vehicle.