highly anticipated, slightly controversial Sno-X Races
echoed through the City of
face it, snowmobiles pollute the environment. Most of these vehicles are
powered by two-stroke engines that dump 20 to 30 per cent of their fuel
unburned straight out the tailpipe. In the
Unfortunately this problem isn’t getting much attention - these
non-road engines are a growing
source of air pollution all over snow country.
In 2006 there were 164,860 snowmobiles sold worldwide; 91,670 were sold in the
Unlike car engines, which auto makers have evolved for decades to increase efficiency and reduce emissions, the two-cycle gasoline engine hasn’t been significantly improved since it was introduced in the 1940’s. These engines take in fuel and emit exhaust in the same stroke, dumping a quarter of their fuel directly into the atmosphere. Those same environmentalists quoted earlier also believe that spending one hour on a snowmobile creates more air pollution than driving a modern car for a year!
an eye on changing these terrible stats, and making winter wonderland safe and
even more enjoyable for everyone, the
Idaho brought home the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association’s
first place award for their team’s two-stroke Rotax DI engine, powered by E10
(fuel that is 90 per cent gas and 10 per cent ethanol). Their machine racked up
an impressive 19.6 miles-per-gallon. Next best mileage was 18.2 mpg by the
It’s worth reporting here that Howard Haines authored an excellent paper in 1995 in which he reported on tests done by the Montana DEQ when it partnered with the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) and others to develop a two-part program to evaluate commercially available biomass-based fuels and lubricants in snowmobile engines. Their data shows that ethanol-blended gasoline with conventional lube oil produced 16 per cent fewer hydrocarbons, 9 per cent less carbon monoxide, and 24 per cent less particulate matter than gasoline. Oxides of nitrogen (NOX) are naturally low from two-stroke engines. Their ground breaking experiment confirmed long ago that the ethanol blends can reduce emissions.
The Canadian Council of
Snowmobile Associations seems to be vaguely aware of ethanol, and they
encourage their members to embrace new technology. They state that snowmobiles
account for less than 1 per cent of all the motor fuel burned annually in
• Leave Tracks, Not Trash
• Maintain Your Sled
• Protect Wildlife
• Leave Your Sled Unmodified
• Stay on the Trail
• Respect Sensitive Areas
• Embrace New Technologies
A political resource, the CCSA web site reminds Canadians that snowmobiling generates over three billion dollars worth of tourism in remote ‘snowbelt communities’ that would otherwise be left out in the cold. The ethanol powered snowmobile may be a few years away from actualization in Canada, but with 868 registered snowmobile dealerships, 135,771 kms of marked trails, and approximately 729,269 registered snowmobiles 2 the market for quiet ‘hot buttered popcorn’ smelling exhaust has never been stronger.