How Does Car Exhaust System Work?

Bindu swetha May 6, 2019
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The car exhaust system is mainly responsible for transporting the exhaust fumes from the engine, out of the vehicle, through the tailpipe. The other functions of the exhaust system are to reduce noise, improve fuel consumption and improve engine performance.
Depending on the make, model, and engine variant, the structure of the exhaust system varies. However, the basic structure and functioning of any exhaust system remains the same.

Components of Exhaust System

Exhaust Manifold - PlacedĀ at the upper end of the system, it further burns down any fuel that was inadequately burned by the engine and pushes it down to the main exhaust system.

Exhaust Pipes - Made of metal or aluminium, these pipes transport the gases from engine and exhaust manifold, towards the tailpipe.
Catalytic Converter - Using a catalyst, this device converts the three main harmful compounds in car exhaust (Hydrocarbons, Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxide) into harmless compounds.

Muffler- It's the silencer that reduces the noise that is emitted by the exhaust.

Tailpipe - It's the end of the exhaust pipe that throws the exhaust fumes out of the vehicle.

Working of the Exhaust System

As aforementioned, during the working of the engine, harmful and harmless fumes are emitted. Six different types of gases are emitted out of which three are harmful. The car exhaust system is the only way, these fumes can be thrown out of the vehicle.

These gases are collected by the exhaust manifold from the cylinder head of the engine.
The manifold funnels the gases coming from the various cylinders of the engine and pushes them down to the main catalytic converter via a single opening i.e. front pipe.

Inside the catalytic converter, the harmful gases - carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons; are converted into harmless gases using two different types of catalysts.
In the first stage, the reduction catalyst is used. Platinum and Rhodium are used to reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions.

In the second stage, the oxidation catalyst is used. Palladium and Platinum are used to reduce unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, by oxidizing them.
These gases then pass through the muffler. The silencer or the muffler reduces the noise made by the exhaust system. It consists of a network of pipes which are designed in a fashion so as to reflect sound waves coming from the system. The reflection is done in such a way that these reflected sound waves cancel out each other.
Finally, the fumes exit the vehicle via the tailpipe. The tailpipe is the end of the exhaust pipe that has a straight or angular cut ending to vent out the fumes.
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