2011 Clean Snowmobile Team Tests New Catalytic Muffler

Michigan Tech's entry in the 2010 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge
Michigan Tech's entry in the 2010 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge

Michigan Technological University’s SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge team has been working with two emissions control firms to test a new, lighter, noise- and emissions-reduction system.

“The big edge is packaging and weight,” said Jason Blough, the team’s advisor and an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechancs. “The technology allows the catalytic converter and the muffler to be in one unit.”

That’s helping the Tech team address its sled’s weight problem. “We’ve been a heavier sled, and this lets us go on a diet,” said Blough. “The catalytic muffler will be smaller than the separate units we ran in the past.”

Initial tests conducted on behalf of Vconverter, of Whitmore Lake, Mich., and Environmental Control Corp., of St. John’s, Newfoundland, showed that the system yielded improved emission reductions. The team is also providing feedback on its overall performance and durability.

“Vconverter and Environmental Control have been excited to work with us,” Blough said. “If we’re successful, then there’s potential for them to enter the snowmobile market.”

Snowmobiles are required to meet new Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards in 2012, creating demand for next-generation technology. “The EPA is instituting tighter and tighter regulations on all engines, including lawnmowers, snowmobiles, weed whackers, snow blowers, etc.” he said. “These new rules are providing an incentive to develop these technologies, and the team is excited to be a part of it.”

Held March 7-12 at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center, the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance. The Challenge is co-sponsored by the Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.