UMaine Clean Snowmobile Team Brings Home 2nd from SAE World Congress

April 2017

The University of Maine, Mechanical Engineering Clean Snowmobile capstone team traveled to Detroit to take part in the WCX17 SAE World Congress 2017. The team was extremely excited to win second place in the student exhibit competition while in Detroit!

Team Members: Ben Chelberg, Tia Perry, Cameron Dick, Mitchell Burgess, Eric Stuckey, Chris Longley, Zachary Prentiss, Noah Nygren

The University of Maine clean snowmobile capstone started as a result of The Clean Snowmobile Challenge conceived by Dr. Lori Fussell. This event was held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park in March of 2000. The competition aims to create a snowmobile that produces little to no gaseous emissions. UMaine’s first snowmobile was a simple 2006 Yamaha Phazer that operated on a mixture of ethanol and gasoline which produced very little hydrocarbon emissions. In 2013, the Snowmobile team moved away from a sled based on ethanol and into compressed natural gas (CNG). After the stock 2013 Arctic Cat XF1100 SnoPro was converted, the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge refused to acknowledge CNG as a viable alternative to normal gasoline. This keeps UMaine from participating in the annual competition, but still allows capstone teams to move forward in refining the CNG capabilities of the snowmobile. Since its conception, the snowmobile has undergone many modifications, some of the major ones include: a CNG tank added in place of the stock fuel tank, a third injector system added to the engine, and the engine bay was reorganized in order to fit the new parts needed for the CNG system.

The technical challenges for this project include installing a new ECU, installing new injectors, and remapping the fuel system. The new ECU will control the amount of fuel going into the cylinders and the new injectors are resized from the stock injectors to allow the appropriate amount of fuel to be delivered. With a new ECU and new injectors the engine can be remapped.  The fuel map is essentially a signal from the ECU to the injectors, which tells the injectors how much fuel should be used.  CNG and gasoline are two very different fuels with different burn speeds, different fuel air ratios when used in an engine, and different octane ratings. This is why the team has decided on a hydrogen and CNG mixture (HCNG). HCNG will burn and perform much like conventional gasoline, but because it is not a widely used fuel and there are currently no snowmobiles that have been converted to HCNG on which to base our alterations. The group must figure out how to properly map the snowmobile so it runs smoothly, generates the same horsepower as the gas model, and can still go the same distance on a tank of fuel.  We are extremely limited by our lack of knowledge on HCNG conversions and engine mapping, which is our largest challenge.

2017 Clean Snowmobile Team Page