Just in time for summer, NASA-developed wireless sensor technology is giving recreational boaters safer and more accurate readings of how much fuel is in their tanks. The magnetic measuring system also has potential uses in planes, trains, and automobiles.

A wireless fluid-level measurement system for marine use from Tidewater Sensors, Newport News, VA. NASA approved a license agreement for its wireless sensor technologies with the company. Outside of the fuel gauge, the system has no moving parts inside the boat's tank. (NASA)

The sensor system eliminates the need for electrical components or circuits to be in contact with combustible fuel or fuel vapors. The wireless system is simple to use and install, and is already in use by boaters. The system originally was developed by NASA to retrofit aging aircraft with safety equipment.

Traditional marine fuel gauge float systems provide inaccurate readings because of a boat’s movement. The new wireless fluid-level measurement system has two stationary pieces of conducting material in the fuel, connected to an inductor on the outside of the tank.

A safety feature allows the sensors to be completely enclosed so the fuel level can be measured without contact with electrical components. This eliminates the potential for fire as a result of fuel vapors being ignited by arcing from damaged or exposed electrical wires. This feature also enables the system to be used with fluids like acids and other chemicals. The system design can be modified to detect water and other non-fuel liquid contaminants in a tank.

NASA has approved a license agreement for wireless sensor technologies with Caplan Taylor Enterprises, doing business as Tidewater Sensors in Newport News, VA.

For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/business/tg-detail-wirelessfluidsensor.html.

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