Snowmobiles in the environment
Instructor: Robin Aspman-O’Callaghan
December 3, 2006
There has been a lot of debate over snowmobiles in the last several years. This is like many other issues where there are two sides, and that each has good points to be made. This paper is going to do a brief review of the issues and allow both perspectives an opportunity to be heard in one place. Snowmobiles cause too much pollution. Snowmobiles are too loud. Snowmobiles cause damage to the environment. Snowmobiles affect wildlife. Snowmobiles should be banned. If you’ve ever read any of these statements or you agree with these statements you’re not alone. The folks that make these statements usually do so with some kind of data that backs it up. The data could allow a reasonable person to come to the conclusion that the statements are correct. Snowmobiles cause too much pollution; it could be air, water, or noise pollution. Air pollution from snowmobiles is the result of using a two-stroke motor. Two-stroke motors (Two-stroke cycle, n.d.) have been in use since they were invented in 1860. They have provided an inexpensive, lightweight, powerful energy source for many applications. They have powered chainsaws, motorcycles, outboard boat motors, personal watercraft, weed eaters, lawnmowers, and of course, snowmobiles. In 2001, the EPA published a proposed emissions standards (Emissions standards for new nonroad engines, September 2001) change for “nonroad” vehicles. It was targeted at reducing the harmful emissions created from “nonroad” vehicles such as snowmobile, ATV’s, and dirt bikes. In 2002, the EPA imposed new regulations (Emissions standards for new nonroad engines, September 2002) that incorporated the proposed changes to emissions regulations. The first phase of the implementation was targeted at the snowmobiles produced for the 2006 model year. Additional requirements will be phased in for the 2010 and 2012 model years. The new standards used a baseline HC (hydrocarbons) and CO (carbon monoxide) for the two stroke engines. This is measured in grams per kilowatt hr. The baseline HC for a two-stroke snowmobile engine 152 g/KW-hr, the CO baseline was 405 g/KW-hr. The required improvement for 2006 set the max HC at 100 g/KW-hr and the max CO at 275 g/KW-hr. The snowmobile industry has responded by recalibrating the existing two-strokes, bringing in new direct injection technology, and offering four-stroke engine alternatives. The two-stroke recalibration option by itself (HC of 74 g/kw-hr and CO of 201 g/KW-hr) has exceeded the 2006 regulations and is on the verge of meeting the 2012 regulations. The direct injection and four-stroke options that are available already meet the emissions requirements for 2012. The direct injection option performs at a HC of 30 g/KW-hr and a CO of 123 g/KW-hr. The four-stroke option performs at an HC of 11g/KW-hr and a CO of 168 g/KW-hr. The direct injection two-stroke (Frequently asked questions from snowmobilers, September 2002) actually has lower CO emissions than that of a four-stroke. Extensive reports have been produced by the National Parks Service that compare snowmobile emissions to that of snow coaches, automobiles, trucks, and RV’s. The reports were made to discuss air quality concerns related to snowmobile usage in national parks. The report titled “Air Quality Concerns Related to Snowmobile Usage in National Parks” (February 2000), does a decent job of comparing different emissions related to the different motor vehicle types. The major emissions concerns that have been directed at snowmobiles have been the HC and CO emissions. In the above listed report that was complied in February 2000, which was prior to the implementation of EPA standards for snowmobiles, snowmobiles contributed to 68% of all HC emissions in...
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