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NDSU students to compete in Clean Snowmobile Challenge

The NDSU Clean Snowmobile Challenge team members include (left to right) Andy Bristow, Rick Bjorkquist, Drew Weber and Chad Thomas.

A team of NDSU students is set to compete in the upcoming 13th annual Society of Automotive Engineers’ Clean Snowmobile Challenge. The collegiate design competition is scheduled for March 5-10 at Michigan Technology University in Houghton, Mich.

The NDSU squad is one of 12 teams entered in the internal combustion category, where engineering students take a stock snowmobile and re-engineer it. The goal is to reduce emissions and noise and increase fuel efficiency while preserving power.

“Our sled is meant to be a proof of concept for diesel-powered recreational vehicles,” said Chad Thomas, a member of NDSU’s snowmobile team. “The efficiency and noise components of the challenge are where we expect to have the biggest advantage over the competition.”

Much of the design work for the NDSU sled was completed by a core group of mechanical engineering students, including Thomas, a senior from Moorhead; Andy Bristow, a senior from Alexandria Minn.; Drew Weber, a senior from Cottage Grove Minn.; and Rick Bjorkquist, a senior from Crosslake Minn.

“‪This competition is a great opportunity to explore different ideas that can improve the snowmobile industry,” Bjokquist said.

Fuel economy is a top priority in the contest, and sleds in the internal combustion category need to adapt to fuels with a range of either ethanol or bio-diesel concentrations. The NDSU team is using a turbo-diesel engine, only the second team in the competition’s history to do so. During the Endurance Run, teams are rated, in part, on their snowmobiles’ mileage during a 100-mile trek. Fuel usage also is measured during indoor emissions testing, and a mobile emissions test incorporates a fuel flow meter.

"By taking the less common diesel route on this project we gave ourselves a big challenge,” Weber said. “We are challenging the status quo and we hope this helps some new technology makes its way to the market."

The core team was assisted by Nathan DuChene, a sophomore majoring in agricultural engineering from Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Tyler Hausladen, a freshman majoring in agricultural economics from New Germany, Minn.; Thomas Mittelsteadt, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Mandan, N.D.; and Michael Schmidt, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Bismarck N.D.

Major sponsors for the competition include the National Science Foundation; USDA Forest Service; National Park Service; automotive parts supplier DENSO; Emitec Inc., a supplier of emissions-reduction technology; Phoenix International, a John Deere company; Aristo Catalyst Technology; Mahle; Gage Products; and Camoplast.

Sponsors for the NDSU team include Polaris, Bobcat, Bunke Racing, Tharaldson Ethanol, Emitec, Stainless Headers, Aristo, United Lease and Finance, Mac’s and Excel Energy.

In addition to NDSU, the teams registered for the internal combustion category include Clarkson University, Potsdam, N.Y.; École de Technologie Superieure, Montreal; Kettering University, Flint; Michigan Tech; Northern Illinois University; State University of New York at Buffalo; and the Universities of Alaska Fairbanks, Idaho, Waterloo (Ontario), Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin-Platteville.

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North Dakota State University
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