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
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
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
The Challenge is sponsored at Michigan
by the Keweenaw Research Center
and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.
Below is a lineup of Challenge contestants.
Clarkson University (Potsdam,
Ecole de Technologie Superieure (Montreal, QC)
Kettering University (Flint,
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
North Dakota State University
Michigan Technological University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Idaho (Moscow,
University of Waterloo (Waterloo,
of New York-Buffalo
University of Minnesota-Duluth
Northern Illinois University (DeKalb,
University of Maine (Orono,
Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
University of Alaska-Fairbanks
McGill University (Montreal,
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (Rapid City, SD)
University of Minnesota-Duluth
Queen’s University (Kingston,