Catalytic converters in automobiles are necessary for cleaning the gas from the exhaust, and they’re also worth quite a bit of cash due to the precious metals inside. Back in 1992, a law was passed that required all new vehicles to use catalytic converters, which caused the price of platinum metals to rise dramatically. Today, the value remains high with no signs of slowing.
A typical converter from an Amerian-made truck, for example, contains a few grams of platinum, rhodium and palladium, with rhodium as the most expensive element. Many V6 and V8 vehicles contain two converters, each lasting up to 150,000 miles on average. The last thing you want to do is to toss catalytic converter scrap metal in a landfill. Recycling the converters will not only bring in money but also won’t contribute to waste accumulation.
In order to extract the metals, you would need to heat the alloy with an extremely hot furnace. The average consumer doesn’t have access to the type of heat required, which is why you need to sell it to a professional who has the right equipment. This type of business first melts the scrap metal, retrieves the solid metal leftover, separates the precious metals and offers the most expensive parts to other companies.
Platinum is an extremely rare precious metal found on the Earth’s crust and in river beds. It almost never corrodes or breaks down from high temperatures. Platinum is used not only in catalytic converters, but also in dental and lab equipment, electrodes, and of course, jewelry. Over the past several years, the price of pure platinum has lagged behind the spot price of pure gold.
Rhodium is another extremely rare precious metal linked to platinum. It is currently the most expensive metal on Earth due to its high shine, rarity and non-corrosive properties. Many pieces of jewelry are plated in rhodium over silver or brass, giving them a mirror-like appearance with a high resistance to tarnish. Today, the price of rhodium is several times higher than gold, with most of it mined in South Africa.
Due to the extremely high cost of intentionally mining platinum and rhodium from the Earth, it’s simply easier and cheaper for investors to recycle items like catalytic converters. Extracting metals from secondary sources in this way is one more way to reduce waste in the world and reuse a metal that has many other uses.