Electric Snowmobile: Sled-Necks, Tree-Huggers Unite

Mar 28, 2006
Utah State University Electric Snowmobile
Utah State University Electric Snowmobile

Eleven Utah State University engineering students designed and built an electric snowmobile that runs so clean the National Science Foundation will use it this summer to conduct research in Greenland’s polar ice caps without polluting the sensitive area.

“When the technology improves and electric snowmobiles become more common, it could really make a big difference in cleaning up our nation’s backcountry areas that are popular with conventional snowmobilers,” said Nathan Hansen, senior mechanical engineering student and team leader. “In fact, Yellowstone National Park donated the chassis of our snowmobile because they wanted to see where this research takes us.”

Hansen said the advantages of an electric snowmobile include zero on-site emissions as well as a considerably quieter motor than a conventional snowmobile.
“Our snowmobile is clean and quiet and could really help cut down on air and noise pollution in areas where snowmobile use is common, especially for utilitarian purposes,” said Hansen. “Our snowmobile could easily get around a snowy town in Michigan.”

Utah State students won the best design award and the zero-emissions division in the seventh annual Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Michigan where they competed against 15 other schools. The Clean Snowmobile Challenge was started by the Society of Automotive Engineers as an effort to build environmentally friendly machines that will meet the 2012 federal emissions standards.

As a recreational vehicle, the electric snowmobile wasn’t favored — the Utah State sled tops out at a speed of 20 miles per hour. But Hansen said there is hope for the future and, as technology grows, an electric sled could easily compete with a conventional sled.

SAE challenged students to take a stock snowmobile and re-engineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or improving performance. The snowmobile was one of only three electric snowmobiles to compete in the competition. Hansen said working on the project with a group of classmates has made the sled what it is today.

“Collaborating with a group improved the snowmobile because so many different viewpoints and ideas were brought together,” said Hansen. “Hands-on projects are so much better than sitting in a classroom. I have learned so much, and as a group we are having fun.”

For information on Utah State’s electric snowmobile, visit www.engineering.usu.edu/mae/projects/es.

Source: Utah State University

Explore further: Can NextRadio app help make radio relevant for a digital audience?

Related Stories

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

41 minutes ago

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

11 minutes ago

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

Cuba's new wifi hotspots attract eager users

43 minutes ago

Near the popular Hotel Habana Libre in Cuba's capital, a gaggle of young people on cellphones, tablets and laptops log onto the new wifi hotspot—a small milestone in one of the least connected countries.

Recommended for you

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

3 hours ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

3 hours ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

3 hours ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.