A device developed by Wolverhampton students to prevent motorists filling up with the wrong fuel is set to hit the market.
Draining the wrong fuel from a car can cost up to £300, while repair bills of several thousand pounds might be expected if the engine is damaged by the fuel.
The AA says the number of UK motorists who put wrong fuel in their cars has doubled over the last ten years and now affects as many as 150,000 drivers, and the scale of the problem is getting worse with the growth in diesel car sales.
Misfuelling mainly happens when drivers of diesel cars accidentally fill up with petrol, as the nozzle from a diesel fuel pump is larger than a petrol one. Now, the Caparo RightFuel device has been created to stop careless diesel drivers filling up with petrol.
Caparo Vehicle Products has licensed the rights to the invention from the University of Wolverhampton and prepared the device for mass production.
It is initially being sold to fleet operators and hire car companies which suffer huge financial losses from misfuelling, but will also be available to buy in September by individuals who can register their interest online at www.caparo.com/rightfuel or www.wlv.ac.uk/rightfuel.
Andrew Pollard, from the university’s Caparo Innovation Centre, said: “The device comprises a special filler cap, which is installed as a direct replacement for the vehicle’s existing fuel filler cap, and includes a physical barrier across the fuel intake aperture.
“The device is designed 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 someone attempts to insert the smaller diameter petrol nozzle, therefore preventing the wrong fuel being added to the vehicle.
“We are delighted to have partnered with the inventor Martin White and Caparo Vehicle Products to develop this innovative product which could save thousands of pounds for companies and individuals.”
The invention was included on the Chris Evans Drivetime Radio 2 Show as a product to look out for in the future.
A similar device was featured on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den programme recently, with the inventor there walking away with a £250,000 investment from the Dragons.
The Caparo Innovation Centre, a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and steel multinational Caparo, was established in early 2003 with the aim of helping inventors to transform new product ideas into commercial products.
Based at the Wolverhampton Science Park, the CIC team includes engineering, product development and marketing professionals, who work with the inventor to strengthen the business case for promising new product ideas. The CIC has been established under a principle that it does not require any upfront financial commitment from inventors. Instead, the centre generates revenue by agreeing a percentage of the proceeds in the event that the product is commercialised.
For details on the Caparo Innovation Centre contact Professor Andrew Pollard on 01902 824182, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.help4inventors.co.uk.