Real-Time Fuel Leak Detector

Period of Performance: 05/01/1998 - 02/01/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Dakota Technologies, Inc.
Fargo, ND 58102
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


During Phase I Dakota Technologies, Inc. (DTI) will demonstrate a fuel leak detection system that is vastly superior to the costly, manpower-intensive techniques currently used in repair, overhaul, and production facilities. The technique uses resonance enhabced multiphoton ionization (REMPI) spectroscopy to test the airspace outside the tank for the presence of certain hydrocarbon constituents of all common fuels; thus, it is not necessary to add tracers to the tank, remove its contents, or otherwise change conditions in order to test for leaks. Owing to the method's extremely high sensitivity, it can easily pinpoint leaks which are so small that only vapor is escaping. The real-time response and very high spatial resolution will enable leaks to be detected in a matter of seconds. The extremely high commercial potential is enhanced by numerous spin-off applications for pipeline leak detection, environmental monitoring, and occupational health/indoor air quality assessments. DTI and North Dakota State University have already published several papers resulting from our collaborative reasearch on leak detection. We therefore propose to build an engineering prototype and demonstrate it at an actual aircraft maintenance facility in Phase I, thereby moving well beyond the goal stated in the solicitation of demonstrating the technology on fuel cell test cubes or small scale tanks in Phase II.