The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 22 - 1/27/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Idaho company wants to replace sparkplugs in snowmobiles with "Smartplugs" to reduce emissions
by Rob Shaul
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the snowmobile industry has until 2005 to greatly reduce emissions from the two-stroke engines that power sleds. A company in Sandpoint, Idaho, Aqualytic Technologies, was recently awarded $140,000 in federal research grants to develop technology, which may solve the emissions problem.
"Smartplugs" vs. Sparkplugs
The emissions-reducing technology takes the form of a device which replaces the sparkplug in internal combustion engines says Mark Cherry, who developed the technology which he's named "Smartplugs."
Smartplugs are designed to replace sparkplugs in internal combustion engines. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Smartplugs eliminate the need for a distributor, wires and timing belts. Instead, the Smartplug uses a tiny bit of current from a battery, "to start the engine's combustion process and force fire into a motor's cylinders.
Mr. Cherry says his invention provides a "very powerful combustion event" which results in a more complete burn of the fuel in the cylinder. This in turn significantly reduces emissions - "down to what we see from a modern catalytic converter," says Mr. Cherry.
Further, Smartplugs allow the engine to burn a wide variety of fuels such as a methanol-water mixture called "aqueous methanol." "The water-mixture fuels burn hotter and more completely," continues Mr. Cherry.
The problem up until now was reducing emissions in snowmobiles and other two-stroke powered craft without decreasing performance. Mr. Cherry claims his invention not only reduces emissions but also increases power up to 20% while at the same time causing the engine to run 30% cooler. "With our solution," he says, "we actually decrease emissions while improving performance of the motor."
Grants and Industry Interest
The EPA and NASA each awarded Aqualytic Technologies a $70,000 research grant to perfect Smartplugs. The EPA grant is focused on reducing emissions on watercraft such as jet skis and outboard engines.
Industry has also shown interest in Smartplugs says Mr. Cherry. Bombardier of Canada, which builds Ski-Doo snowmobiles, has contacted Aqualytic Technologies about Smartplugs and Mr. Cherry says he's had a couple of preliminary conversations with Polaris.
For more information on Smartplugs, go to the company's website at www.smartplugs.com.
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