Kettering Snow Dogs unleashed

Mar 1, 2013

Kettering's Clean Snowmobile Challenge team has turbocharged, tweaked and re-engineered their sled to perfection - now they head to the U.P. focused on first place.

The Kettering Clean SNowmobile teamThe Kettering University SAE Clean Snowmobile team, a.k.a. the Snow Dogs, will be one of 21 teams competing in the Clean Snowmobile Challenge March 4-9 at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich.

New this year, the Snow Dogs developed a turbocharged Miller cycle powertrain with intelligent boost and electronic throttle control to create 93 horsepower. “The Miller powertrain also increases the snowmobile's dynamic performance while maintaining low chemical and noise emissions and high fuel economy,” said Matt Birt, team leader and senior Mechanical Engineering major from Urbana, Ohio. 

The point of the SAE Collegiate Design Series competition is to engineer a sled that has reduced emissions and noise and increased fuel efficiency while preserving the riding excitement demanded by snowmobile enthusiasts.

To accomplish the demands of the competition, Kettering’s Snow Dogs have implemented weight-saving measures including a lithium iron phosphate battery, a carbon synchronous belt final drive, and a pre-studded track that is 17 inches shorter than the factory model, Birt said. 

The snowmobile continues to be fully flex-fuel capable, but will run a random ethanol blend in the E40-E85 range at the 2013 competition.

Mike and Matt run tests with a laptop“Most improved is the snowmobile's overall performance through an increase in power, a reduction in weight, and attention to the snowmobile's handling through the selection of upgraded suspension components and the track,” said Birt, adding that chemical and noise emissions, and brake-specific fuel consumption, are also expected to be improved.

“The greatest success thus far is that we tested our snowmobile on snow one month before the start of the competition,” he said.  “This was a major project management triumph attributable to the dedication of the team's core members. 

“We were motivated by our second place finish last year and have an excellent chance of winning this year, as the amount of time spent testing before an SAE competition almost always correlates to high final placement,” explained Birt.

The Snow Dogs include:
Matt Birt, of Urbana, Ohio,
Michael Cox, of Casa Grande, Ariz.,
Alex Ripstein, of Cowlesville, New York,
Matt VanOeveren, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Clint Lee, and
Dr. Greg Davis.

The work bench preparing for competition - organized chaosThe Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. A record 21 teams have registered for the 2013 Challenge this year, according to Michigan Tech. A total of 14 teams are registered in the internal combustion category. Seven teams are entered in the Challenge’s zero-emissions category, for battery-powered electric sleds, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. NSF uses electric snowmobiles while conducting atmospheric research in pristine arctic locations.

Winning sleds not only have to perform well in noise reduction, emissions and fuel economy, they must also complete a 100-mile Endurance Run to measure reliability. Acceleration and handling events test the entrants’ fun and ride-ability.

In addition to the NSF, major sponsors include Aristo, AVL, Boss Snow Plow, Coca Cola of Hancock, Dassault Systems/Solid Works Corporation, Gage Products, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association,  PCB Group Inc., Phoenix International-A John Deere Company, Sensors Inc., DENSO, Mahle Powertrain, Emitec and NGK/NTK Sensors.

Teams registered in the internal combustion category are Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.), École de Technologie Supérieure (Montreal), Kettering University (Flint), Michigan Technological University, North Dakota State University, Northern Illinois University, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Buffalo, the University of Idaho, the University of Maine, the University of Waterloo (Ontario), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Teams in the zero emissions category are Clarkson, McGill University (Montreal), Michigan Tech, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Minnesota Duluth.

The Challenge is sponsored at Michigan Tech by the Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Updates will be posted on Michigan Tech's Clean Snowmobile Challenge site.

Event information provided by Michigan Technological University.

Kettering contact: Dawn Hibbard