The challenge: modify emissions without giving up performance – April 24, 2006

The University of Wisconsin, Madison, won the 2006 Clean Snowmobile Challenge, a collegiate design contest that took place near Houghton, Mich.
The UW-Madison team modified a four-stroke Polaris snowmobile for the competition, which ended March 18. The competition goals are to modify a stock snowmobile with reduced sound levels and emissions, while maintaining or improving performance. This year, instead of comparing the CSC team snowmobiles to a control snowmobile, emissions and noise results were compared to the U.S. EPA requirements.
The machines are tested through a variety of competitions, including an endurance test, acceleration and an oral presentation. It is organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Twelve teams from the United States and Canada competed in the challenge.
The Madison team took first place in the emissions category, and was competitive in other events.
“We tried to do well in everything, instead of concentrating on one or two things,” said Madison team captain Gary Diehl.
Two years ago, the university’s innovative hybrid gas-electric sled also earned the team a gold, but the Madison engineers focused on more-conventional technology this year.
University of Minnesota at Duluth (with 1,033 points) and Kettering University, Flint, Mich., (1,031) were both awarded second place. Clarkson University, in Potsdam, N.Y., took fourth place, and the University of Maine finished fifth.
The zero-emissions snowmobiles were subjected to different tests than their gasoline counterparts. Instead of a 100-mile endurance test, the electric snowmobiles demonstrated their range. The Utah snowmobile went 9.5 miles; the McGill snowmobile stopped at 7.5 miles.
Representatives from the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service spoke at the awards presentations Saturday.
“This has meant a tremendous amount to Yellowstone National Park,” said Jack Evanoff, the park’s environmental manager. Snowmobile emissions at the park, which have been at the heart of a major controversy, have plummeted in the seven years since the first Clean Snowmobile Challenge, he said. psb

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