Cleaner, greener snowmobile

Feb 7, 2012

Kettering's Motorsports Clean Snowmobile Challenge team is working feverishly to get their modified Ski-Doo ready to compete March 5-10 at Michigan Tech University.

Clean Snowmobile sled 2012Kettering University’ Motorsports Racing is one of 17 teams headed to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula March 5-10 for the 13th annual SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge held at Michigan Technological University’s Keweenaw Research Center.

The team was featured in a recent Flint Journal article.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of SAE International. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise, and increase fuel efficiency while maintaining the riding excitement.

"SAE Collegiate Design competitions give students the opportunity to put their classroom training to use to help solve real-life technical problems facing society," said Dr. Greg Davis, professor of Mechanical Engineering and SAE Clean Snowmobile faculty adviser. 

"The students' approach to these issues is unique - they think outside the box,” said Davis.  Manufacturers tend to be fairly conservative, while the students want to ‘push the envelope’ - they don't know what can't be done.  Often the students' efforts will challenge the manufacturers to undertake more ambitious projects and take better products to market," he added.

Kettering’s is one of the 12 teams registered in the internal combustion category. Five teams are entered in the zero emissions category, for battery-powered sleds, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Fuel economy is again a top priority in this year’s Challenge. Sleds in the internal combustion category will need to adapt to fuels with a range of ethanol concentrations, from E10 (10 percent) to E39 (39 percent). Fuel economy will be measured in three ways. During the Endurance Run, teams are rated in part on their snowmobiles’ mileage during the 100-mile trek. Fuel usage will also be measured during the indoor emissions testing. Lastly, the Challenge includes a mobile emissions test that incorporates a fuel flow meter.

In addition to the NSF, major sponsors include the USDA Forest Service; the National Park Service; automotive parts supplier DENSO; Emitec Inc., a supplier of emissions-reduction technology; Phoenix International, a John Deere company; Aristo Catalyst Technology; Mahle; and Gage Products, which is providing fuel. A new sponsor is Camoplast. The Sherbrooke, Quebec-based company is a global leader in rubber-track technology.

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

Clean Snow Challenge information provided by Martha Goodrich, Michigan Technological University.
Kettering contact: Dawn Hibbard, 810.762.9865,
Michigan Tech contact: Marcia Goodrich, 906.281.1826,