Recreational boaters, like motorists, need to know how much fuel is in the tank. Unlike motorists, they also need to know if water has seeped into their gasoline. Conventional fuel gauges pose a problem in that 1) they’re electrical, which means there’s a chance they’ll ignite the fuel, leading to disaster on the water and pollution to waterways, and 2) they can’t tell the difference between water and gas. This summer, a new technology from NASA may help to change that.
NASA’s wirelesss sensor technology is based on magnetics rather than electronics and was originally developed to retrofit aging aircraft with safety equipment. The spin off technology, now in use by recreational boaters, overcomes many of the shortcomings of traditional liquid storage measurement systems, including the inaccurate readings created by the natural pitch and roll of boats. Stan Woodard, a senior scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Bryant Taylor, an ATK Space Division electronics technician at Langley, created the wireless fluid-level measurement system to be simple to use and install, ideal for retrofitting.
“This fundamental technology could be used to design an unlimited number of sensors for a variety of measurements,” Woodard said, in a statement. “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.”