cat·a·lyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event
John J. Mooney, an Inventor of the Catalytic Converter, Dies at 90:
Mr. Mooney was a high school graduate working as a clerk at a gas company when his colleagues encouraged him to pursue a college education. After earning a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, he went on to receive 17 patents during his 43-year career with the Englehard Corporation in Iselin, N.J. (now the Catalyst Division of the German chemical manufacturer BASF).
Among them was the three-way catalytic converter, which has been described by the Society of Automotive Engineers as among the 10 most important innovations in the history of the automobile.
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that tailpipe emissions from the newest passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, trucks and buses generate about 99 percent less smog-producing exhaust and soot than those from the 1970 models did.