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Oxford RF Sensors has developed a handheld battery-powered sensor for measuring diesel and biodiesel mixtures that is suitable for onsite test work as an early warning of possible contamination.

The sensor provides real-time in-field measurements with the same accuracy as laboratory sampling methods, according to the company.

The handheld sensor measures the amount of biodiesel in diesel and will also indicate whether the sample contains FAME or unrefined vegetable oil, the contamination of the fuel or if a non-diesel sample is being tested.

Common contaminants detected with an out-of-range error message include 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.

Recent advances in radio-frequency (RF) sensor technology provide a portable and low-cost solution for this measurement.

The test procedure requires no special skills or laboratory conditions and is therefore suitable for a range of applications, from batch checking fuels at terminals through to monitoring fuel supplies for standby power generation systems.

Independent trials show an agreement with laboratory-based FTIR methods.

Operation is claimed to be simple, intuitive and quick.

The user dips the sensor probe into the fuel sample and presses a button.

The blend percentage is displayed within seconds; there are no consumables.

The sensor uses patented RF technology developed in conjunction with Oxford University.

The sensor will take a reading in 20 seconds and is accurate to within +/-1 per cent over the range of biodiesel concentrations from 0-100 per cent.

Accuracy is comparable to standard FTIR spectroscopy measurement and correlates with standard reference methods.

The web-enabled unit uses an 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 biofuels 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.

Stanhope Seta will market the device throughout its global distribution chain as Estercheck for diesel/biodiesel (FAME) mixture measurement EN 590, ASTM D975.

‘We are now developing versions to measure ethanol/gasoline and oil condition,’ said Ross Walker, chief executive officer of Oxford RF Sensors.

Future plans include an inline on-vehicle sensor, an ethanol/petrol handheld sensor and both inline and handheld oil condition sensors.

Oxford RF Sensors also provides technology for the measurement of water in oil and fuel, including jet fuel, Adblue concentration and water contamination.

Oxford RF Sensors

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