NASA Sensor Technology Helps Recreational Boaters Make Waves

Apr 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA-developed wireless sensor technology is giving recreational boat owners safer and more accurate readings of how much fuel is in their tanks.

As summer approaches, NASA-developed wireless is giving recreational boat owners safer and more accurate readings of how much fuel is in their tanks. The NASA-developed magnetic measuring system also has potential use in planes, trains and automobiles.

Senior scientist Stan Woodard of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Bryant Taylor, an ATK Space Division electronics technician at Langley, created a wireless fluid-level measurement system. It eliminates the need for any electrical component or circuit to be in contact with combustible fuel or fuel vapors. The wireless measurement system is simple to use and install. It is already in use by commercial and recreational boaters.

"This fundamental technology could be used to design an unlimited number of sensors for a variety of measurements," Woodard said. "Just think about anything that you would want to measure. Don't be surprised when you see this technology commercially available in your home or cars."

Originally developed by NASA to retrofit aging aircraft with safety equipment, the technology is a spinoff for designing and using sensors without the shortcomings of many commonly-used liquid storage measurement systems.

Traditional marine fuel-gauge float systems can provide inaccurate readings because of a boat's movement. A vessel's pitch and roll in open waters can create a "seesaw" effect on fuel gauges. This new wireless fluid-level measurement system has two stationary pieces of conducting material located in the fuel, connected to an inductor on the outside of the tank.

A unique safety feature of the system allows the sensors to be completely enclosed, so the fuel level can be measured without contact with any electrical components. This eliminates the potential for fires as a result of combustible fuel vapors being ignited by arcing from damaged or exposed electrical wires or panels. This design feature also allows the system to be used with fluids like acids or other harsh chemicals.

Another important aspect of the wireless fuel-level sensor system is the design can be modified to detect water -- a major concern for recreational boaters. It also can be modified to detect other non-fuel liquid contaminants in a tank. While this particular system is for a marine application, it easily could be modified for other uses.

NASA approved a partially-exclusive license agreement for technologies between the agency and Caplan Taylor Enterprises LLC, doing business as Tidewater Sensors. Located in Newport News, Va., Tidewater Sensors markets and sells the units internationally.

Explore further: Researchers propose network-based evaluation tool to assess relief operations feasibility

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FAA FUEL TANK SAFETY SYSTEM TESTED AT NASA

Jul 07, 2004

An aircraft normally used to transport the Space Shuttle has been pressed into service to test technology to make airliners safer. Researchers from the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), Cleveland, arranged for a fuel iner ...

Managers to Discuss Atlantis Launch Today

Dec 07, 2007

The launch of NASA's space shuttle Atlantis will take place no earlier than Saturday, Dec. 8, at 3:43 p.m. EST. Thursday's scheduled liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., was postponed because of ...

NASA Go for Return to Flight Launch Attempt Tuesday

Jul 25, 2005

NASA gave the green light for a launch attempt Tuesday for Space Shuttle Discovery on its Return to Flight mission (STS-114). Launch is scheduled for 10:39 a.m. EDT, and it will be carried live on NASA TV. ...

New diesel fuel filtering process created

Mar 08, 2007

U.S. researchers have developed a simple, inexpensive filtering process that could prevent costly instability and deterioration of military diesel fuel.

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

4 hours ago

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

New US-Spanish firm says targets rich mobile ad market

Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica and US investment giant Blackstone launched a mobile telephone advertising venture on Wednesday, challenging internet giants such as Google and Facebook in a multi-billion-dollar ...

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...