Difference Between Foil & Ceramic Catalytic Converters

Posted: May 26, 2022

What Are Foil Catalytic Converters?

What makes a catalytic converter classified as a foil? The term foil is specifically addressing the makeup of the core inside the catalytic converter. Let’s go over the two different types of foil catalytic converters and if you have more questions please let us know!

There are Two Types of Catalytic Converter Cores:

  • Foil Cat –  These have a short roll of stainless steel that contains precious metals. (The pattern will remind you of a fingerprint). Foil cores have metal inside and when automakers are making small runs of cars it is most cost-efficient to use this type of material.
  • Ceramic Cat – Small ceramic honeycombs (blocks) that have precious metals mixed inside the ceramic. (These look more like a grid).

Below we will go into a few pictures and examples of these two different types.

How do I know if I have a Foil Catalytic Converter?

When you are removing a catalytic converter from a vehicle, you will see a pattern inside of the canister where the precious metals are. If you can’t quite see them, you may need to cut off the excess pipe so you can see inside to identify a foil or ceramic catalytic converter.

Foil catalytic converters are much harder to price quote because they are generally based on weight and not by serial numbers. These foil cats are much harder to refine and require more labor than regular ceramic units because they cannot be crushed like ceramics can- but rather they will be shredded or even melted down for better refinement.

Foil Core: Below is a picture of a Foil Catalytic Converter. You can see the swirl of the core on the inside.

Ceramic Core: Below is a picture of a standard ceramic core of a catalytic converter. You can see the criss-cross or grid pattern.

Where Can You Find Foil Catalytic Converters?

Foil catalytic converters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Below is a list of common types of vehicles they can come from.

Domestic Vehicles (more on the industrial side):

Foreign Vehicles:

  • SAAB
  • BMW
  • VM
  • Volvo
  • Porsche

How are Foil Catalytic Converters Priced for Scrap?

Pricing for Foil catalytic converters is usually done by the weight of the converter – these typically have less precious metals in them vs. the traditionally ceramic honeycombs. So because of that, processors and buyers, including RRCats.com will typically price the foil catalytic converters based on the weight of the unit when scrapping. It helps keep a standard for pricing when scrapping foil catalytic converters.

What are Ceramic Catalytic Converters?

The ceramic units will generally refine at higher values because they can be cut open and crushed much easier. These ceramic units will allow refiners the ability to open and recover the values quicker and that quicker recovery can help lead to quicker pricing.

RRCats is a Full-Service Scrap Buyer for All Catalytic Converter Types!

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