An electric snowmobile built by student members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering Clean Snowmobile Team is now in Greenland, on loan to the National Science Foundation . . . at the Greenland Environmental Observatory (GEO Summit Camp).
Dubbed the Bucky EV, the snowmobile won the zero-emissions category of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Clean Snowmobile Challenge (CSC) in Houghton, Michigan, earlier this spring. The goal of this event is to promote the development of clean vehicles that can be used in environmentally sensitive areas where a gas-powered vehicle would contaminate air or snow samples . . .
Summit Camp is a remote scientific research station situated at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The highest point north of the Arctic Circle, Summit sits atop nearly two miles of ice and is 250 miles from the nearest land . . . Summit Camp is a permanently occupied science facility, maintained by a small crew of five to 10 people in the winter and inhabited by up to 50 staff and researchers in the summer.
The camp is only accessible via aircraft. To avoid polluting the site and tainting measurements, staff have designated certain areas around the camp, "clean snow zones," where engine-powered vehicles are prohibited. In the past, inhabitants have transported personnel and equipment via cross-country skis and sleds . . .
The New York Air National Guard flew the UW-Madison snowmobile up to Greenland on a ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules cargo plane . . .
The sled went into service at Summit Camp on June 3 and immediately took up the task of transporting personnel and equipment to some of the remote facilities surrounding the camp. Early experiences in Greenland show that Bucky EV can tow a 1,500-pound payload 5 to 10 miles before needing to recharge. In its first four weeks at Summit, the vehicle has driven 140 miles and transported many tons of cargo, often going through several charging cycles per day . . .
The BuckyEV is powered by Milwaukee Tool lithium-ion batteries coupled to a GM EV1 motor. The system is integrated into a Polaris snowmobile chassis, giving the appearance and feel of a conventional engine-powered snow machine. The vehicle has an unloaded range of almost 20 miles, top speed of 75 mph, and can fully recharge in approximately three hours.
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I imagine that this snowmobile will not yet be on the market next winter. Nonetheless, it is promising to see that our state universities are continuing to commit Research & Development dollars to extremely important areas.
A battery-powered-snowmobile that can tow 1,500 pounds for 10 miles! Now our student engineers should begin working on a car battery. :)