Going Green (by snowmobile)

green machine

The vehicular trips to Pole keep getting fancier, but this one is somewhat unique. The Korea 2010 Green Expedition set out to cross the continent from Hercules Inlet to Terra Nova Bay using snowmobiles powered only by solar and wind energy! This venture was led by 47-year-old Park Young Seok...the experienced mountaineer who happens to be the first person to complete what is known as the "Adventure Grand Slam"--the Seven Summits, the 14 8000ers, and both Poles (Park was the leader of a 5-person Korean team that traveled unsupported to Pole in 2003-04).

The 6-person team, consisting of Mr. Park, Kang Seong Kyu, Kim Soo Hoon, Shin Dong Min, Lee Yong Tack, and Lee Yong Mook started from Union Glacier on 19 December, they first headed north to Hercules Inlet, the official start of the expedition. The two snowmobiles were specially engineered by the expedition sponsor, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System); each had a 5KW electric motor and was capable of speeds up to 12 mph.

quiet ride
The team underway...from this viewpoint the vehicles appear to be ordinary snowmachines...except for the lack of engine noise.
green interest is not flagging
Here is the expedition flag, depicting the originally planned route to Terra Nova Bay. Because of delays due bad weather (poor charging conditions), the trip ended at Pole.

The two snowmobiles relied on a total of 24 210-watt solar panels and four 400-watt wind turbines. Since this equipment obviously could not be deployed while the team was on the move, they had to stop each time they needed to recharge the batteries. Under normal conditions they traveled 35 miles per day, in two separate charging/driving sessions. But overcast/whiteout conditions with no wind often made charging impossible.

seeking the sun
Here's a view of a typical solar panel deployment. Several of these panels failed during the trip.
catching the breeze
This view also shows some of the wind turbines.
At right is one of the battery boxes. Each vehicle was reported to have had three 100-ampere-hour 48V LiFePO4 battery packs, each producing 2 KWH, or a total of 4.8 KWH at 80% efficiency. I note that there appear to be four 8-cell battery packs in this photo...and also that there is no insulation on the box. Oh well, my Korean isn't very good, I'm afraid, but all of the equipment details are on this page of the expedition web site.
power in a box

In mid-January, with the ALE/ANI scheduled closure of Union Glacier getting close, the expedition decided to split up...Lee Yong Mook and Shin Dong Min were left behind at about 86S. They were evacuated along with one of the snowmobiles and some of the equipment. The remaining four members of the team pushed on, running short of food and water, and arrived at Pole in the evening of 28 January SP time, as seen below.

that striped pole got in the way

Much of the information and most of the photos on this page are courtesy of SBS Antarctica (SBS expedition web site) (in Korean); an additional source of info (and the photo at the top of the page) is this PR Newswire press release.