May 20 2013 12:57 AM

College-level environmental engineers in California have created a device that attaches to a lawn mower and significantly cuts down dangerous emissions. The technology could save businesses and Americans millions of dollars in manufacturing and public health costs.

To help lawnmowers meet these new regulations, student engineers from the Bourns College of Engineering, University of California, Riverside, created "NOx-Out," a retrofitted air filter for small engines. The device is attached in place of the muffler and reduces harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide by 87 percent, nitrogen oxides by 67 percent, and particulate matter by 44 percent.

For decades, small gasoline engines have existed with few regulations, and have become serious contributors to air pollution. In 2008, the EPA instituted new standards for small engines and required manufacturers to be compliant by 2011-2012. Some states with substantial high-polluting urban areas, such as California, are adding their own standards for small engines on top of the EPA's.

Estimated price for the filter is $30, which features an innovative pollutant-eradicating compound that was developed by the team. It could also be adapted for leaf blowers, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.

The new filter won two first place awards at the WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development competition, which is run by the Institute for Energy & the Environment (IEE).