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one thing I haven't seen is any commentary about pyrolysis lowering the autoignition point of cellular based flammables (wood, paper, other organic things) and also no comments on the moisture content of the potential flammable material parked in green grass vs super dry grass during a drought in the summer.

alternative methods to tack on to your "experiment"
---use newspaper that has sat in the sun for several days and not exposed to much moisture.
---leave the np touching the extremely hot cat for an extended period of time.
---create a buffer zone from breezes around the np that is touching the cat. this would simulate something more like parking in tall grass where you wouldn't have much movement under the car.
---same test in hot weather
---what if your vehicle has some system failure or sorts, ever seen a clogged cat glow? how about throwing some gas into the line by pulling one plug wire.
 

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This is one of my favorite experiments ever. Fillsteak used the appropriate scientific method as well. Impressive. "We will now attempt to set the Cr-v on fire"

I really want to know what you would have done if the car spontaneously combusted from that newspaper wrap?:D



 

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I think if you know about your lack of a heat shield you should be able to exercise the extra caution not to park it over a pile of leaves or in tall grass (and even then the conditions would probably have to include a very low humidity high ambient tempurature, not sure what it was during this test.. and the flammable material would have to be really dry). In my opinion if you are a person that goes off roading often (more specifically parking off road) it would be more critical to make sure your heat shield is in good shape. Although this seems to suggest there is no way it could happen, having it there would offer the "Off-Road" guy some piece of mind. The other thing people should consider about the argument "For" heat shields is that this test was of a correctly functioning cat and, as stated above, there are common problems that cars have that can increase the temperature of the unit and could possibly change the outcome of this experiment. While this may be common enough to be a safety concern for Honda, I've never known anyone that had their car ignite something and do damage of any kind. It sucks these heat shields fall off after time, I have had a few Hondas of mine lose them in the past.

Edit: Ah I see the ambient temperature was very chilly there after reading it again.
 

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Great experiment! I have a question, what was the outside air temperature at the time of the test? I assume from the cold cat reading, it was around 36 F? You had an operating temperature reading of 400 degrees, that's only 50 degrees away from ignition. I would think at a higher outside air temp the heat would not dissipate as fast and the chance for ignition would almost be certain.

Awesome job though, I like the scientific approach even if couldn't measure every conceivable variable... that just means more funding :)
 

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On a 80F afternoon with the A/C running, I suspect an idling car after having driven a reasonable distance, will easily reach and maintain a temperature over 450F.
 
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