New Device Measures Fuel Consumption of Diesel Boats

Running out of diesel miles away from a destination is no longer something boaties have to worry about thanks to the latest Navman invention.

Navman, an international marine research and develop company based in Auckland, developed the device to suit the growing number of diesel boats worldwide.

The new Diesel 3200 can calculate fuel consumption in varying weather conditions, something that only petrol gauges have previously been able to do.

Matthew Laws, leader of the research project, says a device of this nature has never existed before.

“This is a real-time indicator. Previously these devices tended to be back-yard affairs.”

The equivalent device for petrol motors has been around for some time but a diesel motor is a significantly different engine, Mr. Laws says.

Calculating for diesel is a real problem for various technical reasons to do with the nature of diesel flows.”

Maritime Safety Authority strategy adviser Ian Lancaster says the invention will be more accurate than current measuring devices.

“There are several ways boaties measure their fuel levels – guesswork, a dipstick, a content gauge, and an electronic guide.

“If this new indicator provides a cost-effective and accurate way of measuring fuel, then full marks to them.”

Mr Lancaster says a boat running out of diesel is a serious issue. “If your car runs out of fuel it’s easy to catch a lift to the nearest petrol station, but if your boat runs out of fuel some distance from shore it’s a long way to swim.”

Matthew Laws, who has been at Navman for two years, says marine engineers have been working on the device for 18 months.

The inspiration for the project came from boat shows and customer queries where people asked for a device that could accurately calculate diesel consumption.

“There are a vast number of diesel boats out there. We knew there would be a market for it,” Mr. Laws says.

The Diesel 3200 is currently designed for boats with 100 to 400 horsepower engines, which typically means boats that are 30ft to 40ft long.

“Specifically, at the moment it is for long distance, cruising yachties, but we will design a smaller one,” says Mr. Laws.

Eventually Navman will develop three different diesel indicators, including a device for smaller engines and larger vessels with more than 400 horsepower motors.

Mr. Laws, a sensor expert, says the Diesel 3200 can be combined with graphing technology to further aid boating performance. The device can be linked to computers, and Navman software can use the data from the Diesel 3200 to form performance curves and graphs of consumption against revolutions per minute (rpm).

The most efficient cruising speed for an individual boat can then be calculated, says Mr. Laws.

Navman employs 160 research and development engineers and one-third of those are dedicated to marine development.

The Diesel 3200 was released onto the market in early September.

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