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UAF tops Clean Snowmobile Challenge, earns NSF invite


Fairbanks, Alaska—The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Society of Automotive Engineers team took top honors last week in the zero emissions category of the 2012 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge held at Michigan Technical University in Houghton, Mich.

The win earned one member of the team an invite from the National Science Foundation to travel to Greenland with the snowmachine and offer clean transportation at research sites.

The challenge presented in the zero emissions category was to convert a standard snowmachine to one that uses battery power and has zero emissions, while reducing noise and maintaining low cost and performance. Judged by price, weight, range, performance/drivability, cold start, static display and noise level, UAF’s sled earned the top spot after the weeklong competition.

The National Science Foundation funds the zero emissions challenge. It is designed, in part, to address the need for clean travel near arctic research sites because emissions from vehicles like snowmachines can skew research results.

The team also brought home awards for most improved machine, best cold start, best design, draw bar pull award and best hybrid paper.

The separate internal combustion category challenged teams to reduce noise and gaseous emissions while maintaining performance and low cost. UAF had a separate internal combustion team, which finished eighth among 12 teams. UAF was one of two schools to enter teams in both competitions.

Both teams garnered strong local support from the university community—the College of Engineering and Mines, the UAF Alumni Association, the UAF Sustainability Fee, ASUAF and the UAF Technology Board—and a variety of businesses that offered monetary and in-kind donations such as parts and discounts.

The 13th annual event was sponsored by SAE International and hosted by MTU and Keweenaw Research Center. The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is designed to address the snowmachine industry’s concern about environmental impact while preserving the speed and power riders demand. Competitors keep that demand in mind while they use their own parts and ideas to modify sleds for the multifaceted competition.

More information on the competition is available at http://students.sae.org/competitions/snowmobile/about.htm.

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