Andrea Stockton, staff writer
December 6, 2010 — The snowmobiling season has arrived and a group of environmental enthusiasts are finding ways to green the industry.
Signs of winter have already popped up across most of the country. And while the cold temperatures and heavy snow can make conditions on the roads treacherous, it's exactly the type of weather snowmobilers wait for.
Carving up the snow is usually a top priority, but a group of students at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have some alternative plans.
“We're trying to re-engineer a stock snowmobile to make it quieter, more mileage and lower emissions,” says Peter McClure, with the Clean Snowmobile Team. “The ultimate goal is to figure out some new techniques that we can use to make snowmobiles better for the environment.”
And it's all part of the annual 'Clean Snowmobile Challenge.' The older and traditional engines in snowmobiles tend to spew out harmful toxins into the air, and that gives this team an incentive to find a solution for the environment.
“Our design intent with this is to make it run on anything from pump gas to 85 percent ethanol,” says Alec Espie, a member of the UW Clean Snowmobile Team. A turbo charged engine could potentially help to improve fuel consumption by 55 percent.
Cleaner engines are becoming more popular across Canada and by 2020, tougher emission standards will ensure that all snowmobilers are riding eco-friendly machines.