January 11, 2009

Ethanol's Use In Snowmobiles

The NBC affiliate in Portland, Maine posted an article on snowmobile users having problems with ethanol blended gasoline. My guess is there will be more over the next few days as this echoes through the internet.

Snowmobilers Have Trouble With Ethanol Gas

Some time back I ran across some information on the use of ethanol blended gasoline in snowmobiles. The Yellowstone National Park allows snowmobiling in the park and had at some point become concerned with the emissions that they produced. After extensive testing being conducted by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, they concluded that the use of oxygenated fuels such as ethanol blended gasoline would be the best way to reduce emissions from snowmobiles operating in the park. Their website has a wealth of information on their efforts to reduce emissions from snowmobiles and their experience with ethanol blended gasoline. Here are some exerts from their website.

One method for reducing emissions from snowmobile engines is the use of oxygenated fuels. The oxygenated fuel used in Montana is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent conventional gasoline. Use of oxygenated fuels reduces emissions of most harmful pollutants from gasoline engines in both snowmobiles and snowcoaches.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has persuaded snowmobile rental agencies in West Yellowstone to try out the ethanol blend fuel and alternative oil products. All of the West Yellowstone rental businesses use these products exclusively, with a considerable reduction in pollution.

Rental agents noted that use of the alternative products eliminated carburetor freezing and significantly reduced the need for engine repairs.

Tests of emissions done in the field by the University of Denver showed that each 1 percent of ethanol in the gasoline blend would reduce carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by a little more than 1 percent so that roughly, a 7 percent blend of ethanol fuel reduced CO emissions by 7 percent. The Yellowstone National Park staff has operated the Park's fleet of 100 snowmobiles with E-10 and bio-based lube oil since 1997.

Project findings caused West Yellowstone snowmobile and snowcoach rental agencies to voluntarily use E-10 and bio-based lube oils to reduce emissions and increase power. The fleet operators experienced a 60 percent reduction in required maintenance calls, avoided carburetor freezing, and had better power and fuel economy.

It is hard to understand why snowmobile users in Maine are having problems related to ethanol blended gasoline when these fuels have been used successfully for several years in Yellowstone.

Source : Montana Department of Environmental Quality

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