A limited amount of information exists on the effect of higher ethanol content fuel (greater than 10 vol%) for recreational vehicle engines. The possibility exists for misfueling of these vehicles, as ethanol content may increase at gas stations in the near future. Engine management systems in the recreational vehicle market are typically not equipped with feedback controls to adapt to the increased ethanol content. To address this concern and generate preliminary data related directly to the recreational industry, a study was conducted to evaluate the impact of E22 fuel on steady-state emissions and performance of two production snowmobiles. To fully analyze the impact of higher ethanol blends, cold-start, durability, and material compatibility tests should be performed, in conjunction with emissions and performance tests. While these additional tests were not performed as part of this study, there is a test program that is assessing all these factors on E15 fuel, which will be released in fall 2012. E0 fuel was used to establish baseline performance and emissions data. A 2009 four-stroke snowmobile with a 998cc, liquid-cooled, four-cylinder, intake port-fuel injected engine and a 2009 two-stroke snowmobile with a 599cc, liquid-cooled, two-cylinder, electronically controlled, crankcase-fuel injected engine were used for this study. Neither vehicle had any feedback air-fuel controls or after-treatment devices in the exhaust system. Power, fuel consumption, relevant engine temperatures, as well as, regulated exhaust emissions were recorded using the EPA 5-mode certification test cycle.

The data showed no major impact on power output for either the four-stroke or two-stroke snowmobile. Brake specific fuel consumption varied with E22 as compared to E0. A reduction in CO emissions for both vehicles was observed for the E22 fuel. Both vehicles were factory calibrated rich of stoichiometric and hence, the addition of ethanol to the fuel effectively leaned out the air/fuel ratio and thus reduced the CO emissions. HC emissions were reduced for both the four-stroke and two-stroke engines, though certain test points of the two-stroke engine produced HC emissions that exceeded the analyzer measurement range (idle). Leaner operation reduced HC formation. Exhaust gas temperatures were observed to increase from 20°C – 50°C with E22 fuel, due to enleanment.

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