A new device to prevent motorists putting the wrong kind of fuel in their cars has been developed at Wolverhampton University.
The inventor, Martin White a retired Royal Navy Commander, partnered with the Caparo Innovation Centre at Wolverhampton University to develop and license the patent rights for the new device.
The misfuelling problem mainly arises for drivers of diesel cars who accidentally fill up with petrol. The nozzle from a diesel fuel pump is bigger than that from a petrol fuel pump, which prevents drivers accidentally fuelling a petrol car with diesel.
But the other way around, it is a serious and growing problem.
The diesel misfuelling prevention device is a retrofit product, which is installed as a direct replacement for the vehicle’s existing fuel filler cap. In its normal state, the mechanical device forms a physical barrier across the fuel intake aperture preventing access to the fuel tank.
The device is configured so that when a diesel fuel filler nozzle is inserted the physical barrier swings out of the way allowing fuel to be added to the vehicle. The device can distinguish between petrol and diesel fuelling nozzles and will not open when it is attempted to insert the smaller diameter petrol nozzle, therefore preventing the wrong fuel being added to the vehicle.
The product is being taken to market by Caparo Vehicle Products, who have improved the design to make it suitable for volume production and are currently producing and testing advanced prototypes.
Initial research conducted by the group identifies that misfuelling occurs most often when the driver is unfamiliar with the vehicle they are driving. In accordance with this research, the product will initially be offered to fleet vehicle operators and hire car companies.
The arrangements for manufacturing the product are now set, although it will be a few months yet before it becomes available in the shops.
The Caparo Innovation Centre is a joint venture by Wolverhampton University and the steel multinational Caparo, which helps inventors to negotiate the early stages of the new product development process.