Monday, September 19, 2011

Project: Unattended Fuel Transfer

This is looking to be the FIRST arduino project this fall for the sailboat. I just recently completed the plumbing of the fuel system to support fuel filtering, polishing, transfer, and distribution (see here and here). Tests have shown that the low capacity of the fuel transfer pump creates a problem: filling the day tank is too slow.

The Problem

The boat is equipped with "day tanks" which are smaller tanks from which you normally operate your fuel consuming devices, instead of the main fuel tanks. The idea behind this is that it encourages you to pay attention and manage your fuel consumption in that the day tanks are only large enough to power things for a few days of constant use. When the day tank gets low, you transfer more fuel from the main tanks, noting how much was transferred to help give an average daily consumption figure and an update of fuel left in the main tanks.

Unfortunately, the transfer takes a long time. To fill one of the small days tanks, maybe 20-30 minutes. Its kind of boring sitting there watching the fuel gauge of the day tank slowly creep up. It would be nice to have the pump automatically shut off when it is full. Enter Arduino...
  • By connecting the tank level sending unit to the ardiuno, I can directly measure the level of the tank. Having the arduino control a relay that controls the transfer pump, enables the device to shut off the pump when the tank is full.
  • During the transfer, one needs to be careful to not empty the source tank, as this will result in air being let into the system. The arduino can also monitor the source tank and stop any transfer should it get near empty.
  • Since there are two day tanks, and three main tanks, all tanks can be connected to the arduino (there are enough inputs) and it can be told which is the source and which is the target tanks
  • Furthermore, it would be nice to measure the actual fuel transferred. Attaching a flow sensor to the arduino can provide this feature.
Parts

Arduino Uno

Numeric Control Keypad
Flow Sensor
Standard 16x2 LCD character display

Stay tuned...

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