Automobiles having conventional three-way catalytic converters emit a majority of their exhaust emissions within the first 2-3 minutes after engine cranking following a “cold-start”. Rapidly increasing the catalyst temperature of a catalytic converter to the light-off temperature of the catalyst is of paramount importance in curtailing tailpipe emissions. The technical feasibility of a new heating strategy based on an Electrically Initiated Chemically Heated Catalyst (EICHC™) approach has been demonstrated. A test apparatus incorporating an EHC and a spray-generating nozzle was constructed to conduct an extensive parametric study. A spray of methanol along with air was passed through the EHC preheated at different temperatures. With the EICHC™ approach, the time required to achieve catalyst light-off temperature within the EHC was reduced drastically. Supplying methanol to chemically heat the catalytic converter lowered considerably the electrical energy requirements. The catalytic oxidation of methanol and other organic chemicals on the catalytic converter surface is flameless, controllable, instantaneous and highly exothermic.