Obituary for a father of the catalytic converter

Speaking of automobiles and the environment, it is worth noting that Carl D. Keith died on Friday. He was one of the creators of the three-way catalytic converter: a device that has reduced automobile emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxides significantly, improving the air breathed by billions of people around the world.

The advent of catalytic converters also accompanied the decline of leaded gasoline: Thomas Midgley‘s second deadly contribution to atmospheric chemistry, alongside the CFCs that destroy the stratospheric ozone layer.

It is regrettable that so little progress has been made on reducing the environmental impact of automobiles between the 1970s and the present. Hopefully, engineers of Keith’s mold will find themselves empowered by the world’s newfound concern about energy and the environment.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

3 thoughts on “Obituary for a father of the catalytic converter”

  1. There was one absolutely massive improvement in the environmental quality of cars since the introduction of the catalytic converter: closed loop electronic fuel injection control with oxygen sensors and mass air meters. This means cars never need to be tuned, and always run at maximum efficiency and cleanliness. Even if a valve gets burnt, or the engine develops another kind of non-catastrophic failure, a closed loop fuel injection system will keep it running as clean as possible.

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