Catalytic Converter

This type of catalytic combustor is found in the exhaust systems of automobiles and in the flue pipes of modern wood burning stoves. The active component is finely dispersed particles of platinum or palladium.

Clicking a thumbnail on this web page ( shows a movie of that step.


Propane gas passing through the apparatus can be lit with a match.

A propane flame is used to preheat the ceramic.
The flame is then extinguished but the propane continues to flow.
Propane passing over the hot catalyst exothermically oxidizes and increases the temperature of the ceramic.

The gas resulting from propane passing over the hot catalyst will extinguish a lit match. How does the observed effect compare with that in the first movie where the catalyst is not hot?

When the propane flow is turned off, the catalyst cools off. Why?


HS-3 Catalytic Combustor (A glass chimney containing a piece of ceramic with a platinized surface)
Educational Innovations
362 Main Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
A methane or propane source.
A BernzoMatic Trigger Start Torch from a hardware store is used in the movies but a Bunsen burner also works.

Exploring the Nanoworld   |   MRSEC Nanostructured Interfaces
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This page created by George Lisensky, Beloit College.  Last modified November 23, 2010 .