Scientists at Coburg University in Germany have been working on a new sensor which may help to prevent accidental misfueling. Sitting in the neck of the fuel tank, the sensor uses lasers to detect the composition of fuel by its fluorescence; this means that the sensor could potentially not only detect whether the fuel is petrol or diesel, but also more specific details which can be used to improve performance.
Because petrol and diesel fuel have different qualities, this experimental sensor should be able to identify one from the other quite easily, and sound a warning if the user is putting the wrong fuel in their car. As the device would sit in the neck of the tank, this should allow the error to be detected quickly, and this may mean that the user would be able to react fast enough to avoid damage to their car.
Misfueling is a common problem around the world because it is all too easy to become distracted and pull up to the wrong pump; especially if you’re driving an unfamiliar vehicle. Because the dispenser nozzles and fuel tank necks tend to be different sizes, the issue is usually with petrol being put into a diesel car, rather than the other way around, but both can be damaging to your car. However, if you realise your mistake quickly, and have put only a small amount of petrol into a diesel car, it may be possible to simply top your tank up to the brim with diesel and carry on with your day – depending on the vehicle. If it proves effective and affordable, this sensor could help drivers to realise their error at this stage, before any damage is done.
At present, however, the scientists and the Bavarian patent alliance behind the project are still seeking car manufacturers who are willing to develop the device, so it will be some time before it is available commercially.
In the meantime, if you suffer the misfortune of accidentally putting petrol in your diesel car, the important thing to remember is not to panic. Keep the engine switched off and call us at Wrong Fuel on 0800 634 9827, and your mistake can often be rectified without any expensive repairs becoming necessary.