|The PGM's reside in the honeycomb region of the catalytic converter. The much-older catalytic converters originally used pellets before the more efficient and less expensive honeycomb came into use.|
The amounts and proportions of PGM's depends on the age and type of vehicle.
- Cars, light-duty trucks, and motorcycles average 2-6 grams.
- Larger-engine SUV's and trucks can range anywhere from 6-30 grams.
Gasoline-powered-vehicle catalytic converters use all three of the aforementioned rare-earth metals. Diesel-powered-vehicle catalytic converters use only platinum and rhodium.
As a general rule: the older the vehicle, the more platinum present in the catalytic converter. Because of the high cost of platinum, industry continually strives to reduce the amount of platinum necessary by the use of other metals and materials and/or design changes
Platinum is currently worth around $900 an ounce or $30 a gram. Rhodium and palladium are very approximately worth $725 an ounce or $25 a gram. Needless to say, prices fluctuate greatly; the value ratio of the three metals aren't exactly carved in stone either. Current prices and price-ratios can be found here.
Catalytic converters really don't add that much salvage value to a scrapped or totaled car anymore, exceptions of course being the much older and larger vehicles. And of course, thefts are still happening from those vehicles whose catalytic converters are easily accessible.
It turns out the information to write this page was not easy to find. Fortunately, I stumbled across most of it buried in a government-archived article written by the USGS about cerium recovery from catalytic converters. The article has more information scattered around about catalytic converters, platinum and the other PGM's, recycling, etc.
|Rare platinum nugget. Source: USGS.|