Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Scott A Miers


Jason R Blough


Increasing prices for fuel with depletion and instability in foreign oil imports has driven the importance for using alternative and renewable fuels. The alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, butyl alcohol, and natural gas are of interest to be used to relieve some of the dependence on oil for transportation. The renewable fuel, ethanol which is made from the sugars of corn, has been used widely in fuel for vehicles in the United States because of its unique qualities. As with any renewable fuel, ethanol has many advantages but also has disadvantages. Cold startability of engines is one area of concern when using ethanol blended fuel.

This research was focused on the cold startability of snowmobiles at ambient temperatures of 20 °F, 0 °F, and -20 °F. The tests were performed in a modified 48 foot refrigerated trailer which was retrofitted for the purpose of cold-start tests. Pure gasoline (E0) was used as a baseline test. A splash blended ethanol and gasoline mixture (E15, 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline by volume) was then tested and compared to the E0 fuel. Four different types of snowmobiles were used for the testing including a Yamaha FX Nytro RTX four-stroke, Ski-doo MX Z TNT 600 E-TEC direct injected two stroke, Polaris 800 Rush semi-direct injected two-stroke, and an Arctic Cat F570 carbureted two-stroke. All of the snowmobiles operate on open loop systems which means there was no compensation for the change in fuel properties. Emissions were sampled using a Sensors Inc. Semtech DS five gas emissions analyzer and engine data was recoded using AIM Racing Data Power EVO3 Pro and EVO4 systems.

The recorded raw exhaust emissions included carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), total hydrocarbons (THC), and oxygen (O2). To help explain the trends in the emissions data, engine parameters were also recorded. The EVO equipment was installed on each vehicle to record the following parameters: engine speed, exhaust gas temperature, head temperature, coolant temperature, and test cell air temperature. At least three consistent tests to ensure repeatability were taken at each fuel and temperature combination so a total of 18 valid tests were taken on each snowmobile. The snowmobiles were run at operating temperature to clear any excess fuel in the engine crankcase before each cold-start test.

The trends from switching from E0 to E15 were different for each snowmobile as they all employ different engine technologies. The Yamaha snowmobile (four-stroke EFI) achieved higher levels of CO2 with lower CO and THC emissions on E15. Engine speeds were fairly consistent between fuels but the average engine speeds were increased as the temperatures decreased. The average exhaust gas temperature increased from 1.3-1.8% for the E15 compared to E0 due to enleanment.

For the Ski-doo snowmobile (direct injected two-stroke) only slight differences were noted when switching from E0 to E15. This could possibly be due to the lean of stoichiometric operation of the engine at idle. The CO2 emissions decreased slightly at 20 °F and 0 °F for E15 fuel with a small difference at -20 °F. Almost no change in CO or THC emissions was noted for all temperatures. The only significant difference in the engine data observed was the exhaust gas temperature which decreased with E15.

The Polaris snowmobile (semi-direct injected two-stroke) had similar raw exhaust emissions for each of the two fuels. This was probably due to changing a resistor when using E15 which changed the fuel map for an ethanol mixture (E10 vs. E0). This snowmobile operates at a rich condition which caused the engine to emit higher values of CO than CO2 along with exceeding the THC analyzer range at idle. The engine parameters and emissions did not increase or decrease significantly with decreasing temperature. The average idle engine speed did increase as the ambient temperature decreased.

The Arctic Cat snowmobile (carbureted two-stroke) was equipped with a choke lever to assist cold-starts. The choke was operated in the same manor for both fuels. Lower levels of CO emissions with E15 fuel were observed yet the THC emissions exceeded the analyzer range. The engine had a slightly lower speed with E15.