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The Ultimate Guide to Catalyst Recycling for Natural Gas Fleets

on November 7, 2023

No doubt about it, natural gas powered trucks and buses are a proven and reliable alternative to diesel-powered equipment in 2022. With well over 10 years of dependable service, more and more fleets across the U.S. are expanding and investing in sustainable, renewable and near zero-emission transportation solutions powered by natural gas (CNG, LNG and RNG).

As natural gas-powered fleets mature and add more vehicles, recycling the precious metals found in their emission control equipment (three-way catalysts or TWC) should become a priority for fleet maintenance managers, parts managers, and sustainability leaders. Not only is recycling a potential revenue stream, but fleets running natural gas have shown a commitment to sustainability, they should also close that loop with a robust recycling program.

This article is intended to help answer questions about three-way catalyst recycling for fleets running natural gas vehicles. Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways:

  • Natural gas fleets are maturing and catalyst recycling should be a priority
  • Catalysts used on natural gas powered vehicles contain valuable platinum group metals (PGMs) such as Platinum (Pt), Rhodium (Rd) and Palladium (Pd)
  • Recycling these valuable PGMs is another way to further support sustainability in your operation
  • When done right, PGM recycling is not a cost center, but a revenue stream with sustainability benefits

What natural engines are most common in fleets?

For years, Cummins has been the leader in not only diesel engines but also natural gas engines and emission control systems. The most common heavy-duty natural engines found in trucks and buses are the Cummins ISL G, ISX 12G, L9N and the newest X15N.

Image Source: Cummins Inc.

Who are the largest users of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles?

To date, the most common applications for natural gas engines in the U.S. are transit buses, refuse collection trucks, pickup and delivery fleets, and municipal fleets. A few examples of the largest operator of natural gas vehicles are:

  1. LA Metro (transit buses)
  2. Waste Management (refuse collection trucks)
  3. UPS (parcel delivery trucks)
  4. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (shuttle buses)
  5. Republic Services (refuse collection trucks)
  6. San Diego’s Environmental Services Department (municipal fleet)
  7. FedEx (parcel delivery trucks)
  8. Atlas Disposal  (refuse collection trucks)

Source: ReFuel Energy Partners

Although there are hundreds of other fleets operating natural gas vehicles, the organizations listed above have made a significant investment in sustainable, renewable and near zero-emission transportation.

Waste Management natural gas refuse trucks

Image Source: Waste Management

What events prompt the recycling of three-way catalysts in heavy-duty vehicles?

In addition to factors related to vehicle age, mileage, and hours of operation, there are other factors that can prompt the need for catalyst replacement and recycling.

  • Repower Projects: Many fleets are completing repower projects in which the emissions system and engines are replaced with newer models and technology
  • Engine Issues: Fleets report that some engine malfunctions can cause collateral damage causing the natural gas catalyst to fail (e.g. crack or melt) and in turn require replacement
  • Common Component Failures: Fleets report the most common failures are related to engine EGR cooler leaks, piston cracking and Ignition Control Module (ICM) failures

Natural gas three way catalyst recycling

Image Source: Red Fox Resources®

What is a three-way catalyst (TWC) used in heavy-duty natural gas vehicles?

The TWC catalyst is a key component of the emission control system for natural gas engines. Emissions from natural gas engines can be controlled (e.g. reduced) by the catalysts. The type of catalyst and aftertreatment system depends on the engine combustion strategy determined by the engine manufacturer. (Source:

What is the monetary value of recycling natural gas catalysts?

The catalyst component of a three-way catalyst is usually platinum (Pt), along with palladium (Pd), and rhodium (Rh). All three of these platinum group metals, or PGMs, are extremely rare but have a broad range of applications in addition to catalysts for emission control systems.

Recycled values of three-way catalysts vary based on the amount of substrate that is intact at the time of recycling. A typical price paid for a recycled fully intact catalyst from a Cummins ISL G is $250-500 each, depending on the spot market prices of the precious metals or PGMs.

To learn more about the value of your three-way catalysts, contact Red Fox Resources to obtain a quote for the specific part numbers you’d like to recycle. Red Fox can also help you start your own plan to recycle these parts on a regular basis.

Note, to remain compliant with catalytic converter anti-theft regulations, Red Fox Resources ONLY works with, buys from, and makes payments to companies or government agencies, NOT individuals.

Other Recycling Resources

How do I get started with recycling three-way catalysts?

It’s really very simple. Since 2014, Red Fox Resources has helped many organizations across the U.S. start successful programs to recycle thousands of emission control components (Three-Way Catalysts, DOCs and DPFs) that contain PGMs. As an industry leader, Red Fox Resources has a knowledgeable team with years of experience.


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