advances in electric vehicles
In 2010, a new event was added to better simulate real-world operation of the
electric machines, which are typically used as workhorses at Summit Station,
Greenland, in towing heavy cargo sleds. In this timed event at the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, another snowmobile makes a good cargo load.
Conditions in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in March are unpredictable. Sixty
degrees with clear skies led to some new challenges in 2010. None of the
ground-fault circuit interrupter devices tripped in the wet conditions, but it
was good to know they were there.
range remains the primary limitation for electric-drive vehicles of all kinds.
In order to be useful, electric snowmobiles need to go a minimum of 10 miles
on a charge. The best range to date was over 20 miles. Here a member of the
McGill team finishes another lap on the range-test track.
Nicholas radovec pushes the University of Wisconsin sled through powder
during the 2009 competition.
24 November/December 2010 SOLAR TODA Y solartoday.org
kilometer away to the prevailing upwind side.
The move created the need for a zero-emission
vehicle capable of hauling personnel and heavy
gear over open snow. Chemical species in the
air and snow are measured in some cases down
to parts per trillion. If one were to ride up to a
sampling site on a conventional snowmobile, the
atmospheric scientists would have to throw out
a significant segment of data.
Electric snowmobiles thus fill a real need
and have become one part of a multi-faceted
approach to creating the best possible scientific
research platform. Beyond the pollution issue,
to the extent that snowmobiles can operate on
locally produced electricity, the NSF avoids hav-
ing to fly in supplies of gasoline. The NSF was
sufficiently interested in electric snowmobiles,
for use at all snow research stations, that in 2008,
they took on major sponsorship of the CSC Zero
The station has begun to reduce its primary
need for fossil fuel by implementing wind and
solar power sources. A wind turbine, rated at 6
kilowatts, was installed in 2007, and solar power
arrays are in the planning stage. The station also
plans to haul supplies on a 700-mile over-snow
traverse to limit the number of Air Guard flights.