If you own a car, chances are that its catalytic converter contains one of the rarest and the most expensive precious metals on Earth – Rhodium.
Although it’s not present in every catalytic converter, Rhodium, besides platinum and palladium, is one of the precious metals used in manufacturing this component. In fact, catalytic converters are valuable enough that it’s common for thieves to steal this component and sell it as scrap.
It makes sense to know the quantity of Rhodium that the cat converter of your car has in it. Well, the amount of Rhodium present in a catalytic converter depends on the car’s make and model.
How much rhodium is in a catalytic converter?
A catalytic converter actually has very little Rhodium, like 1 to 3 grams. Not only is it very expensive and hard to obtain, but Rhodium also happens to be the least active among the three precious metals used in cat converters.
However, this metal is highly resistant to poisoning, and this makes it perfect for certain applications. Generally, a catalytic converter contains about one to two grams of Rhodium in it.
What vehicles have the most rhodium in the catalytic converters?
The amount of Rhodium in the catalytic converter varies from one car to another, and certain vehicles have significantly more Rhodium than others. This also makes these cat converters more expensive and bigger targets for thieves.
Generally, cars with larger engines tend to have more Rhodium in their catalytic converters, as they have to deal with a higher amount of toxins. Certain sports cars also require more than one catalytic converter to filter the pollutants as their engines are too large for one cat converter.
Vehicles that have the most Rhodium in their catalytic converters include Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Lexus SUVs, and exotic cars from brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Certain models, such as Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Aventador have two catalytic converters each, resulting in a relatively higher amount of Rhodium combined.
How much rhodium is in the average converter?
An average catalytic converter weighs 1.2 kilograms but contains only 1 to 2 grams of Rhodium. While this might sound like an extremely small amount, one should remember that Rhodium is very expensive and even a gram of it can cost a fair amount of money.
In fact, car manufacturers try to reduce the number of precious metals in their catalytic converters to reduce production costs. However, there are laws limiting such downsizing efforts.
How much is Rhodium worth?
Currently, a gram of Rhodium costs around USD 450, which is quite pricey. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Rhodium is the most expensive precious metal.
For comparison, a gram of platinum costs around USD 27. This should show you the huge difference in pricing, despite both being precious metals used in manufacturing cat converters. It also explains why catalytic converters hold such high value even as scrap.
Which catalytic converters have the most rhodium?
Catalytic converters with the highest amounts of Rhodium also happen to be among the priciest. Of course, this is quite natural, considering the huge impact that Rhodium can have on the price of a cat converter compared to platinum and palladium.
It’s easy to identify cat converters with the most Rhodium based on their pricing. Catalytic converters that have the most Rhodium include:
- Lamborghini Aventador
- Ferrari F430
- Ford 250
- Ford Mustang
- Toyota Prius
- Toyota Tacoma
- Dodge Ram 2500
The prices of these catalytic converters vary significantly, but Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Aventador, and Dodge Ram 2500 have the costliest ones, priced at USD 4500, USD 3,700, and USD 4100 respectively. Note that for the Lamborghini Adventador and the Ferrari F430, it’s the price per cat converter as they have two cat converters each.
Where does rhodium come from?
The discovery of Rhodium took place back in 1803, by English chemist William Hyde Wollaston. Shortly after he discovered Palladium, he happened to extract Rhodium from a piece of platinum ore.
The platinum ore he used had come from South America, which is currently one of the sources of mined Rhodium. Currently, the natural sources of Rhodium mostly lie in the minefields of South Africa, South America, North America, and Canada.
In nature, one can find Rhodium either in pure form or mixed with other minerals, such as platinum and copper-nickel sulfide ores. The latter is mostly true for the rhodium found in Ontario, Canada.
South Africa supplies more than 80% of the Rhodium in the world due to its concentrated natural supply. Commercially, however, industries produce Rhodium as a byproduct while refining nickel and copper.
What kind of metal is Rhodium?
Silver-white in color, Rhodium is one of the six platinum group metals (PGMs) – platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, osmium, and ruthenium.
All six platinum group metals share some common characteristics, such as resistance to toxicity, oxidation, and corrosion. Among them, rhodium is the rarest – one can find only one part of rhodium in every 200 million parts of the earth’s crust.
One of the key characteristics of Rhodium is that it happens to be a noble metal, i.e., it doesn’t usually react with oxygen. The metal also has a high melting point, and remains unaffected by air and water up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rhodium’s resistance to toxicity, heat, and moisture, together with its efficiency as a catalyst, makes it perfect for its purpose in catalytic converters.
How to extract Rhodium from a catalytic converter?
If you have an old car you need to get rid of, you might want to consider selling the precious metals from its cat converter as scrap. Of course, considering how much money it can fetch you is a good idea. Here’s how to extract the Rhodium from your car’s catalytic converter:
- The ceramic part of the catalytic converter usually contains the Rhodium, so you’ll have to cut it out.
- Now put the ceramic components in a ball bearing mill and grind them into powder.
- Take the powdered substance and put it in a leach tank with HCL acid. The acid will dissolve the platinum and the palladium, leaving behind the ceramic.
- You can now easily separate the ceramic from the acid through filtration.
- To remove Rhodium from the ceramic, you need to fusion an oven and get the ceramic to react with sodium hydrogen sulfate. The Rhodium will now transform into Rhodium sulfate (RhSO4)
- By dissolving the RhSO4 in water, you can separate the sulfur monoxide. Finally, you may separate the solution through filtration and extract the Rhodium from it.
- The platinum and the palladium from earlier won’t go to waste either – you can extract them both through precipitation too.
Of course, this is a somewhat complex process and you may not have access to the necessary tools or possess the expertise needed to operate them. It would be much more convenient to sell the catalytic converter entirely rather than going through the trouble of extracting the metals.
The Rhodium in your car’s catalytic converter can fetch a decent amount of cash regardless of how much Rhodium you have there. You certainly shouldn’t ignore the scrap value, unless you own a car that specifically comes with an inexpensive cat converter, such as a diesel car.