OXFORDSHIRE, England — With the rapid growth of bio-fuel use, a British company has introduced a hand-held battery powered sensor to measure diesel/bio-diesel mixtures and provides real time field measurements.
The product, developed by Oxford RF Sensors, provides the same accuracy as laboratory sampling methods, according to Ross Walker, company CEO.
“A fuel tester is an essential tool for quality assurance through the entire bio-fuel chain from producer to end user,” Walker said.
The sensor measures the amount of bio-diesel in diesel and will also indicate whether the sample contains fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) or unrefined vegetable oil, contamination of the fuel, or if a non-diesel sample is being tested, Walker said, adding that common contaminants detected with an out-of-range error message including white spirit, petrol and water.
“With increasing instances of material compatibility problems with FAME products, such as fuel pumps, the measurement of bio ester content in diesel is now a key test parameter for many users,” Walker said. “Recent advances in RF sensor technology provide a portable and low-cost solution for this measurement. The robust sensor design is ideally suited for on-site test work as an early warning of possible contamination. The test procedure requires no special skills or lab conditions and is therefore suitable for a broad range of applications, from batch checking fuels at through terminals to monitoring fuel supplies for standby power generation systems. Independent trials show good agreement with laboratory based Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR) methods.”
Walker said the operation of the device was simple, intuitive and quick.
“Dip the sensor probe into the fuel sample and press a button. The blend percentage is displayed within seconds. There are no consumables,” he said.
The sensor uses patented RF technology developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford. The sensor will take a reading in 20 seconds and is accurate to within +- 1 percent over the range of bio-diesel concentrations from 0-100 percent. Accuracy is comparable to standard FTIR spectroscopy measurement and correlates well with standard reference methods.
The unit uses a simple and quick air calibration before each reading and there is no need to calibrate the unit using special calibration fluids.
The unit stores up to 300 measurements and can download and print measurement data to a computer via a USB connector. This connection can also be used to upload new software and fluid parameters as and when new bio-fuels are introduced.
The sensor unit is provided with a multi-region wall charger adaptor and can be recharged from any computer via its USB port.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff may be contacted to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.