I knew that gas-powered lawn mowers kicked out some sizable air pollution, but I didn't realize quite how bad they were until I read that the EPA estimates that a lawn mower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for every hour of operation.
Until everyone uses these awesome robotic lawn mowers that run off the clippings they produce, it looks like we need some better solutions.
Enter a group of engineering students from University of California Riverside who have developed a device that can eliminate 93 percent of pollutants from lawn mower emissions. It's a simple, "L" shaped device that can be attached to any regular gas-powered mower where it's muffler was.
When tested, it reduced carbon monoxide (CO) by 87 percent, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 67 percent and particulate matter (PM) by 44 percent. With the improved version of the device, 93 percent of particulate matter emissions were eliminated.
UC Riverside says that within the device, "a filter captures the harmful pollutants. Then an ultra-fine spray of urea solution is dispersed into the exhaust stream. The urea spray primes the dirty air for the final stage, when a catalyst converts the harmful nitrogen oxide and ammonia into harmless nitrogen gas and water and releases them into the air."
The team is calling the device NOx-Out and thinks it would sell for about $30. They hope to see it used by landscaping companies who could cheaply retrofit their mowers, current lawn mower users who want to clean up their machine and even landmower manufacturers who could offer models with the attachment already in place.
The coolest part of this story is that this great invention will be used and soon. UC Riverside has committed to using the device in campus lawn maintenance and it could spread through the entire University of California system.