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2013 Clean Snowmobile Challenge On Track For March 4-9

Published online: Jan 30, 2013 News Marcia Goodrich
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Michigan Tech News

Houghton, MI-Teams of college students from across the Snow Belt will converge on the Copper Country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula March 4-9 for the 2013 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Their aim is to reduce emissions and noise and increase fuel efficiency while preserving the riding excitement demanded by snowmobile enthusiasts. And for the first time, anybody anywhere can support that mission through the crowdfunding site www.superiorideas.org.

Challenge organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 to underwrite awards for the student engineers, who spend months and sometimes years fine-tuning snowmobiles to meet the demands of the competition.

"Students learn critical lessons about hands-on engineering and designing for the environment, plus the Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a huge asset to our local community," said co-organizer Jay Meldrum. "Superior Ideas lets anyone be part of that by donating whatever they can afford." To find out more, go to http://www.superiorideas.org/projects/clean-snowmobile/.

A record 21 teams have registered this year. "We're also looking forward to hosting two rookie teams: Queen's University in Ontario and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York," Meldrum said.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. A total of 14 teams are registered in the 2013 Challenge's internal combustion category. Seven teams are entered in the Challenge's zero-emissions category for batter-powered electric sleds, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF uses electric snowmobiles while conducting atmospheric research in pristine arctic locations.

Fuel economy-no matter what recipe the fuel-is again a top priority in this year's Challenge. Internal combustion sleds will need to adapt to fuels with a range of ethanol concentrations, from E40 (40 percent) to E85 (85 percent). "If a team doesn't design for that, they won't do well," Meldrum said.

The diesel-powered entries from the State University of New York at Buffalo and North Dakota State University will face flex fuels with a soybean-based content ranging from B00 (0 percent) to B9 (9 percent).

Winning sleds must do more than pass muster on quietness, emissions and fuel economy. They also complete a 100-mile Endurance Run, which is a measure of reliability. Acceleration and handling events test the entrants' fun and rideability.

The whisper-quiet, ultra-clean zero-emissions sleds are rated on acceleration and handling. They also undergo load tests to determine their carrying capacity.

In addition to the NSF, major sponsors include Aristo, AVL, Boss Snow Plow, Coca Cola of Hancock, Dassault Systems/Solid Works Corporation, Gage Products, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, PCB Group Inc., Phoenix International-A John Deere Company, Sensors Inc., DENSO, Mahle Powertrain, Emitec and NGK/NTK Sensors.

Local businesses will provide services, donations and in-kind contributions. Volunteers from the Michican Snowmobile Association have pitched in every year to provide logistical support and guidance to team members.

The Challenge is sponsored at Michigan Tech University by the Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Below is a lineup of Challenge contestants.

Internal Combustion Class

Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY)

Ecole de Technologie Superieure (Montreal, QC)

Kettering University (Flint, MI)

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND)

Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI)

University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Idaho (Moscow, ID)

University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON)

State University of New York-Buffalo

University of Minnesota-Duluth

Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL)

University of Maine (Orono, ME)

Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)

Zero Emissions-Electric Class

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

McGill University (Montreal, QC)

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (Rapid City, SD)

University of Minnesota-Duluth

Clarkson University

Queen's University (Kingston, ON)