How Exhaust Systems Work

The tail pipe that we see at the end of an automobile is not just a simple pipe. In fact, it performs a very important function. It is part of the exhaust system of the vehicle that channels gases out from inside the machine, releasing them from the vehicle. Exhaust systems are not simple, either. They are composed of many car parts that are hidden from our eyes as we drive the vehicle. Each part contributes to the task of not only exhausting the gases but to make sure that the gases that are blown out of the car are not harmful to the environment.

These are the harmful gases that exhaust systems control:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Unburned Hydrocarbons
  • Lead
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Phosphorus
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Other metals

Read the following to know more on the specific tasks of each component in exhaust systems:

  1. Exhaust Manifold. This is the part of the system that directs the gases from the combustion chamber to the exhaust pipe. Its structure is made of cast iron and is built with smooth curves so gases can move freely.
  2. Catalytic Converter. This is the part of the system that converts the harmful gases into ones that will not do as much harm to the atmosphere. Its catalysts are metals that, when combined with heat, can cause a reaction with other chemicals without being affected. Common metals inside catalytic converters are aluminum oxide, platinum, and palladium. The metals convert the harmful gases into carbon dioxide and water, which are considerably less harmful to the atmosphere.
  3. Resonator. Known as the mini-muffler, this part of the exhaust system quiets down the noise that the muffler cannot eliminate. Depending on the automobile's design, the resonator can be found either before or after the muffler.
  4. Exhaust Pipe. This is the part of the exhaust system that keeps everything in place. This is also the part where the gases travel from the chamber to the tail pipe.
  5. Muffler. The muffler is the part of the exhaust system that eliminates the noise that the engine makes. There two types of mufflers, and they differ in the materials and process of muffling the noise:
    1. With baffled chambers - The noise loses its energy while inside the muffler when it hits the baffles.
    2. With perforated pipes - The perforated pipes contain metal, fiberglass, and other materials that absorb sound.
  6. Tail Pipe. The part connected to the muffler and where the gases come out. Nowadays, the tail pipe also serves an aesthetic function. Most car enthusiasts dress up the tail pipe or have it tipped in chrome. Some change the standard tail pipes into bigger ones to give their cars a race-car like sound.

A more understandable analogy would be comparing the car's exhaust systems to human respiratory systems. Just as how regulated breathing brings life to humans, proper ventilation is also required for automobiles to reduce the sound of the engine, to cool the machine, and to clean the gases that come out of it.


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