Sled monkeys ride again

Mar 15, 2002

The sled monkeys are at it again - it's time for the Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Jackson Hole and the Kettering University team has big plans.

The sled monkeys are at it again - it's time for the Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Jackson Hole and the Kettering University team has big plans.

Last year's sled, Kettering's first try at the snowmobile challenge, finished a close second place winner. Faculty adviser to the team Greg Davis, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, said the sled is "better this year."

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge, a student competition of the International Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), runs from March 23 to 29, in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Kettering team will leave Wednesday, March 20, and return April 3.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is SAE's newest collegiate design competition that challenges engineering students to reengineer an existing snowmobile for improved emissions and noise while maintaining or improving the performance characteristics of the original snowmobile. The modifiedsnowmobiles are also expected to be cost-effective.

The 2001 snowmobile designed by Kettering University produced lower unburned hydrocarbon (1.5 to 7 times less), carbon monoxide (1.5 to 7 times less), and oxides of nitrogen (and 5 to 23 times less) levels than the average automobile driven in Yellowstone National Park.

Kettering's team placed second overall in the 2001 competition, and accepted the award for Quietest Snowmobile from representatives of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. As newcomers to the competition, Kettering won the $4,000 International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association Award for placing second and the $2,000 Society of Automotive Engineers Award for best design. The team won a total of $8,000 in prize money.

Hoping to improve on last year's design, the team is fine-tuning the emissions to make them even lower and working on making it quieter. "We're tweaking everything," said Davis, "right now it hasn't got an engine or treads."

This year the team will use a newer model of the same engine they used last year, a Toyota/Daihatsu four stroke, three-cylinder engine. The company donated two engines to the team this year. "I always like to take a spare to competition in case something happens," said Davis.

The partially ethanol-powered sled is still ahead of commercial prototypes, but Davis said this year Yamaha announced a model similar to the Kettering design and Polaris offers something similar in a limited production. The Kettering team received $7,500 from the Michigan Corn Growers Association to develop the snowmobile that is powered by an ethanol/gasoline mixture.

Eleven Clean Snowmobile team members will travel to the competition. There are about 30 active SAE Clean Snowmobile team members, said Davis. Kettering boasts the largest student chapter of SAE worldwide.

For more information about the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, visit the web site at: