Monday, August 15, 2022

Is Suicide By Car Exhaust Still Possible?

 Once automobiles became more common than wood fires, I see hatchet mass murders going down while automobile exhaust mass murders go up.  (Yes, an interesting graph will be weapon method vs. ubiquity.)  Modern cars produces less nitrogen oxides because compression ratios and thus temperatures are lower, and catalytic converters turn remaining CO into water and CO2.  Do modern ICE cars produce enough CO to kill?  Or would the CO2 suffocation reaction drive even the most serious suicide out of the car?

Apparently no, but not the way you expect.

This study measured exhaust carbon monoxide of two automobiles - one without and one with catalytic converter - idling in a closed garage as well as the carbon monoxide and oxygen concentrations within the garage. As anticipated, the declining oxygen levels of the test “tricked” the carbureted car without catalytic converter into richening the mixture and thus producing dangerously high exhaust CO levels. Although the second car with a catalytic converter and on-board oxygen sensor control system initially produced low CO exhaust levels, it also eventually was “tricked” into producing high levels of CO. Thus the potential exists for a “clean automobile” to cause lethal levels of carbon monoxide to accumulate in a closed garage.

1 comment:

  1. A neighbor couple to my sister not long ago died of carbon monoxide poisoning, probably by accidentally and unnkowingly triggering the remote start of the car in their attached-garage.
    So I think there are probably enough deaths from storm and garage running-car incidents that we can safely surmise that with modern cars this is still a thing.