Most people, especially in Africa believe when you rev up your car engine and you water jets out of your tailpipe it means your engine is in good condition. well, this isn’t always the case? Let’s take a good look at this myth and find out how water manages to get into our exhaust in the first place.
What we need to understand first is there is water in the atmosphere, there is water everywhere even the petrol you buy still contains water. During combustion, excess water in petrol, poisonous gases, as well as sound waves are produced and pushed out of the engine block via the exhaust manifold.
We now know a percentage of the exhaust from the engine is water. But that’s not where all the water we see comes from. The catalyst converter is responsible for producing most of the water. The function of a catalytic converter is to reduce the toxicity of gases produced during combustion.
Here is how it actually happens in the catalytic converter, the harmful gases produced during combustion contains carbon monoxide (CO2), unburnt Hydrocarbon (HC) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX).
Inside the converter are two ceramic blocks with tiny ducts for the gases to flow through. The first block contains platinum and rhodium, both react with oxide of nitrogen and breaking it down oxygen (O²) and Nitrogen (N²).
And the second block which contains platinum and palladium is where the carbon monoxide reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO²) and the unburnt Hydrocarbon also reacts with oxygen to form water (H20) in form of steam.
From the above reactions, carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, and water are the products the gases after reactions in the catalyst converter.
That’s not all, at the extreme of your tailpipe is a big cylindrical shaped part known as the muffler. This is sound wave is muffled, its also is where the hot stream of water is condensed and stored sometimes to be forced when you rev the engine but most times the water comes out as steam.
Technically all cars should produce water, Right?
There are a couple of reasons why your car isn’t doing so
- This could simply be that your catalytic converter is not working properly to convert these gases and may need to be changed.
- It could mean condensation is no more taking place in the muffler, all the steam is forced out most of the time.
Now we know that water out of your exhaust pipe doesn’t reflect how good your engine is all the time, it only shows that your car is in good working condition. And most importantly it shows your catalytic converter is doing its job.