NASA Sensor Technology Helps Recreational Boaters Make Waves

WASHINGTON -- As summer approaches, NASA-developed wireless sensor technology 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

NASA approved a partially-exclusive license agreement for wireless
sensor 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.

NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program supports the agency's
technology transfer efforts. The program promotes the acquisition,
maturation, infusion of commercial technology and capabilities into
NASA's programs through investments and partnerships with industry,
academia, government agencies and national laboratories.

Video of the wireless fluid-level measurement system will air on NASA
Television's Video File beginning at noon EDT. The b-roll also shows
how the system is installed in boats and how it operates. For NASA TV
downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:


For more information about the wireless fluid-level measurement
system, visit:


For more information about Tidewater Sensors, visit:


For more information about NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program,


Source: NASA

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