Evaluating the Impact of E15 on Snowmobile Engine Durability and Vehicle Driveability: September 22, 2010 - August 15, 2013

Robert McCormick, Robert McCormick (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of E15 on current and legacy snowmobile engines and vehicles that could occur due to misfueling by the vehicle owner. Three test scenarios were conducted to evaluate the impact of E15, including cold-start performance and emissions, on-snow vehicle driveability, and laboratory exhaust emissions over the useful life of the engine. The eightengines tested represent current and legacy product that may exhibit sensitivity to increased ethanol blended in gasoline. Because a limited number of snowmobile engines were evaluated for this test program, the results are not statistically significant. However, the broad range of engine and mixture preparation technologies, combined with the various test scenarios provide preliminaryinformation to assess potential issues with E15 use in snowmobiles. Cold-start tests were performed at -6.7 degrees C (20 degrees F), -17.8 degrees C (0 degrees F), and -28.9 degrees C (-20 degrees F). The evaluation included time to start or number of pulls to start, engine speed, exhaust gas temperature, and start-up engine emissions concentrations. Statistically significant differences instarting times were not observed for most vehicles. Snowmobile driveability was analyzed using a subjective evaluation on a controlled test course. The drivers could not easily discern which fuel the snowmobiles were using during the subjective evaluation. Durability tests were conducted to measure the emissions and performance of the snowmobiles over the useful life of the vehicles (5,000miles). There were no fuel-related engine failures on E0 or E15. Carbon monoxide emissions were generally reduced by E15 relative to E0, by from 10% to 35%. Occasional misfueling of snowmobiles with E15 is not likely to cause noticeable or immediate problems for consumers. E15 is not approved for snowmobile use, and observations made during this study support the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency's decision to not approve E15 for snowmobiles.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages75
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5400-60115


  • driveability
  • E15
  • emissions
  • engine durability
  • ethanol
  • snowmobile


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