Go to contents

Green expedition to use solar, wind-powered snowmobiles

Posted December. 08, 2010 11:23,   


Key players in the Green Expedition Team for Antarctica are two electric snowmobiles running on batteries charged with solar and wind power.

TS, a maker of customized electric motorbikes and vehicles, has participated in the project from the initial design phase. Whether the snowmobiles will generate stable performance will be a determining factor in the expedition’s success.

Traveling via electric vehicles along unpaved roads in extreme cold represents a major adventure and challenge for the electric vehicle industry.

TS President Kim Soo-hoon said, “Batteries tend to dramatically lose efficiency in weather of minus 30 degrees Celsius in Antarctica and can hardly post 50 percent of output, which poses the biggest problem.”

For this reason, the snowmobiles will use the LiFePO4 Li-ion battery, which is known to be the most efficient in cold weather. Tests in a freezer of minus 45 degrees suggested that the battery performed at about 80 percent of normal capacity.

A battery installed in one snowmobile weighs 160 kilograms. Two batteries to be used in the two snowmobiles take about nine hours to fully recharge using 16 solar cell modules and eight small wind-power generators.

When fully charged, the snowmobile, with an electric motor and maximum output of up to 12 kilowatts, will run for about three hours at speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour and collectively weigh 1,150 kilograms -- 250 kilograms for the vehicle and 800 kilograms for loaded freight and trailer.

Since snowmobiles cannot recharge their batteries while on the move, the expedition must repeat journeys of a nine-hour recharge followed by three hours of travel.