Stephen Wallman, a retired employee of Volvo Car Corporation has received the Royal Swedish Automobile Club’s gold medal for his work in the development of the three-way catalytic converter, controlled by an oxygen sensor.
Stephen Wallman, a retired employee of Volvo Car Corporation has received the Royal Swedish Automobile Club’s gold medal for his work in the development of the three-way catalytic converter, controlled by an oxygen sensor.. Click image to enlarge

Göteborg, Sweden – A retired employee of Volvo Car Corporation has received the Royal Swedish Automobile Club’s gold medal for his work in the development of the three-way catalytic converter, controlled by an oxygen sensor. Stephen Wallman introduced the technology, one of the world’s most important inventions for controlling automotive exhaust emissions, in 1976.

Six years prior to the time of the technology’s launch, the automobile industry was aware that the U.S. legislation regarding exhaust emissions was to be made radically stricter by the Clean Air Act of 1970. Volvo Cars put Wallman in charge of emission controls development, a project that soon included 60 people.

As the converter and sensor gained recognition, it was adopted throughout the industry. However, it was not until 1989 that Sweden passed legislation regarding emissions levels that made the technology mandatory.

“For such a small manufacturer, (Volvo) actually has two completely unique solutions that can now be found in nearly all cars: the three-way catalytic converter with an oxygen sensor, and the three-point safety belt, which is one of the most important safety developments of all time,” Wallman said. “That is something that we can be very proud of.”

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