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The future of ZTR's?

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by Dirty Water, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    I've been thinking about which way the commercial mower market is going to go in the next decade, and I think based off the rising cost of crude, as well as our more environmentally concerned population, that fuel efficiency and emissions are going to become a large factor in the future of lawn mowers.

    Therefore I began thinking of what sort of mower drive train would be able to do this. Here are some thoughts just for fun:

    First off, I think the ideal future drive train will be a hybrid. A gasoline/propane engine (or perhaps biodesial???) that powers a generator. A typical future ZTR will have 3 electric motors. One on each wheel, and a deck power motor.

    Every other function will be done by servo's and solenoids, completely eliminating the hydraulic system. Power would be by battery packs mounted where the hydro fluid tank would be usually.

    The mower would operate virtually silent, as you don't need much of a engine to power a generator, and the engine would run through a sophisticated catalyst and muffler.

    Another thought is perhaps regenerative braking as you slow the mower down to turn it, and perhaps even running off the battery's alone unless it needs to charge, making it even more efficient.

    The high torque output of electric motors make them excellent to drive wheels and blades.

    I think a hybrid ZTR would cost several thousand more than a regular ZTR, but with the advantages of extremely better fuel efficiency, almost zero emissions, and low noise pollution, it would pay for itself.

    Imagine being able to mow at 6 AM without disturbing people?

    Anyways, just thoughts of mine, feel free to add your ideas.
  2. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,397

    Give me a minute on that. I am still trying to figure out how you turned a cat into a hovercraft. :D
  3. CincyWolf

    CincyWolf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    Some creative thinking but you'd better find a way to silence that deck before you cut my grass at 6am.

  4. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    I think that if you balance the deck right, as well as using a sound absorbing material on the inside (Some sort of composite matt material) it would be very quiet.
  5. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    Since you are thinking along those lines, Why not add a remote reciever so you can sit on the porch sipping iced tea and mow the lawn ? :)
  6. cushman

    cushman LawnSite Member
    from se pa
    Messages: 36

    As far as emissions is concerned, we can get near zero with liquid cooled engines, EFI, and cats. Forget propane, too expensive and actually dirty compared to modern gasoline engines.

    It's far more efficient to drive a mower directly than with a generator/motor combo. Batteries would be worthless, no significant energy to charge them.

    A gasoline Z could be quiet if lq and had sound deadener in the deck.

    Fuel economy could be improved by using flat blades, the GE Elect-tracs i worked on many years ago used thin low lift blades. Todays thick, high lift blades would have sucked the batteries down in no time.

    As far as biofuels, what a crock. What they don't tell you is that it takes a gallon of diesel fuel to make a gallon of biofuel. Its only value is proving that you can do it.

    If we're concerned about reducing fuel used to mow grass, how about developing grass that grows slowly and needs less frequent mowing?
  7. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    I know this, The engine I had in mind would be a liquid cooled EFI single cylinder that probably outputs around 5-6 HP.

    An engine that small, especially with EFI, would be rather gasoline effiecent...in comparison, Todays ZTR's use 20hp twin cylinders that are carberuated. I know there are some EFI/Liquid Cooled ones...but the majority aren't.

    I disagree, You wouldn't need near the size of a battery pack that a hybrid car uses, and they are only using 800cc sized engines to charge those and move the car.

    I think a regular electric forklift sized battery pack (6 deep cycle 12 volt batteries) could easly be charged effiecently by a small engine and a generator....Besides, the motor would stay off except when the batteries were under heavy load, or running down, much like a air compressor's motor.

    An electric motor has a linear torque curve that starts out at almost peak torque, unlike a gasoline engine, so its cutting power, and speed would be unriveled.

    Now thats a good idea...Whats the downside to a thin blade? Easier wear?

    I agree, but you have to remember you can even convert a diesal to run off cooking oil (with a tank warmer), Biodesial is just the first idea of many to come.

    :blob3: What about the thousands of existing accounts without new lawns :)
  8. barnard

    barnard LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 618

    Stake out a calf. Butcher it when it's fat.Absolutely zero resources used. and food when your done. This is if you really feel environmental. We all make our living in this field performing unecessary tasks. OK feel free to pile on now.
  9. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Your post didn't make any sense at all to me...

    I'm not trying to replace the lawn mower, I'm trying to improve it.
  10. Redneckn

    Redneckn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    I think the small engines used in the L/G industry will be one of the last if not THE last to get anything along the lines of hybrid. It is such a low drain on the evironment anyway.

    Me personally, I would refuse to own one even if they were out there. I refuse to let any kind of "petro" worries rule my life. I set out to buy a truck with crappy gas milage just to irriate the "tree huggers".

    There are things in life we need and things in life that other people think we need. If we really needed to have hybrid cars/trucks/mowers, these things would have come about a long time ago.

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