In chemistry, catalysts are compounds that aggravate chemical reactions while leaving catalysts unaffected. The first catalytic converter was invented by a French engineer named Eugene Houdry for smoke stacks. It wasn’t until 1975 that catalytic converters began to be used in automotive vehicles to reduce hazardous emissions from car exhaust; some of those include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons. A catalyst is necessary.
To further clarify, a catalytic converter is an “antipollution device in an automotive exhaust system that contains a catalyst for chemically converting some pollutants in the exhaust gases..” The catalyst used in a catalytic converter involves a mixture of platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd) and rhodium (Rh). These metals are coated inside of a honeycomb made of ceramic that uses a large surface area where reactions take place.
Since it is essentially a safety hazard to not use catalytic converters; do lawn mowers come with a catalytic converter built in? The answer to this question is a striking no. The reason there isn’t a catalytic converter in lawnmowers is largely due to lack of regulations and lack of demand (because catalytic converters are expensive).
To give a picture of how necessary catalytic converters are for lawnmowers; the Texas Commission on Environmental quality discovered that one hour of using a gas powered lawn mower produced the same amount of pollution as driving for four hours.
Because of the hydrocarbon toxic wastes; gas-powered lawn mowers which are not enabled with a catalytic converter can be a huge contributor to smog. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a regulation that would reduce 35% emissions in lawn mowers (as well as speedboats). It was so dramatic that the result of such had the same effect as removing 1 in 5 cars out on the streets; 190 million gallons of gasoline were preserved and 300 premature deaths were prevented annually.
To give you a picture of how huge of an impact gas-powered lawn mowers have on the environment by simply not having a catalytic converter, it is estimated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that 5% of all pollution in the United States is the result of lawnmower use and 2% of smog pollutants.
Electric lawn mowers are making a mark but there are still several issues that are preventing electric lawn mowers from moving forward. First of all is the tangled mess of cords that electric lawn mowers use. While there are cordless lawn mowers there is still the issue with batteries failing and having to replace the batteries, which can be a huge pain.
Also, there is the use of mechanical lawn mowers which simply use the force and momentum of propelling the equipment forward that the blades begin to twist and cut grass. This is by far the safest option in terms of health and the environment. These tools are also cost effective and readily available for consumer access; you can find these at Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowes.
To conclude; currently, there are no regulations requiring the use of catalytic converters. There is also not much of a demand for catalytic converters because consumers simply aren’t pushing company’s for that want; as I mentioned to top all of this off, it is expensive to have a catalytic converter powered lawn mower. Perhaps, the EPA will soon step in and require the use of catalytic converters in the near future; it’s the safest route for the future of lawn mowers.