“Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, which included a provision requiring all vehicles manufactured after 1975 to sharply reduce pollutants. Automakers objected, saying it was not technologically possible. But researchers at Engelhard Corporation, a metals processing company in New Jersey, found that platinum group metals could catalyze, or convert, unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides into less harmful forms. To be effective, the catalysts had to be durable, have a high melting point and resist corrosion. Engelhard coated a ceramic honeycomb screen with a thin layer of PGMs and placed it inside a metal container through which the engine exhaust passed.” A just like that, we had “one of the greatest technological interventions to protect the environment in history.” And soon, we’d have one of the most sought after items among thieves. What happens to a lot of those precious metals extracted from stolen catalytic converters? They end up being ground into powder, melted, and blended to make new catalytic converters. NYT (Gift Article): So Thieves Nabbed Your Catalytic Converter. Here’s Where It Ended Up.