David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist
During the last twenty-five years, the American Auto Industry had been forced to drastically improve its emission of polluting gases (nitrous oxides and hydro-carbons). Improved technology and manufacturing techniques have allowed modern day cars to be hundreds, to thousands times cleaner than the 1969 family V-8 station wagon.
Well, it's time to consider what will happen to the power equipment we use in the landscape maintenance business. This includes commercial and home owner types of lawn mowers, string trimmers and blowers (back-up and ground types).
The proposed guidelines and industry developments are as follows:
1) Minimize pollution levels of hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides and particulate (carbon) matter from landscape equipment.
2) Certify compliance with these standards (performance expectations).
3) Develop noise pollution standards.
The equipment affected includes everything from string trimmers to back-hoes and tractors.
Advancements in emissions have resulted in design changes in cylinder heads and valve components. Overhead valves (OHV) have been used extensively in the last ten years, compared to flat head four cycle engines. Some manufacturers are developing four valves/cylinder configuration for use in lawn/landscape equipment. This gives more power, with lower emissions. Perhaps not to far way, is the use of solenoid actuated valves (with variable valve timing). These technologies are spill-overs from the auto industry. The trick is whether it can be done at low cost for landscape equipment. The quickest and easiest fix will probably be a catalytic converter for small engine power equipment. A catalytic converter for lawn mowers may only increase the cost of a unit by $20.00. Manufacturers are experimenting with fuel injected two cycle mowers, which have high horsepower/displacement and ultra-low emissions. Some of these two cycle mowers include the use of composite materials. The space age will probably meet your back yard in the next ten years.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The University of Arizona. The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.