UAF engineers implement fuel monitoring device in the Arctic

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) UAF engineers from the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) have implemented what they believe to be the first fuel pump monitoring apparatuses in the Arctic. The devices, dubbed “PuMA”s, are attached to Toyotomi brand oil-fired heating systems (nicknamed “Toyos”). They then measure the amount of fuel being used at a given time.

PuMA devices have now been implemented in Tanana, Fairbanks, and now Kotzebue. (Ramzi Abou Ghalioum/KTVF)

According to Baxter Bond, a research engineer at ACEP, the PuMAs are the first instance of a noninvasive means of measuring fuel use in these kinds of stoves. This is due to the solenoid electromagnet fuel pump on Toyo stoves. This allows the researchers to attach a sensor which measures the magnetic pulse given off every time fuel is pumped.

Dominique Pride, research assistant professor at UAF, says that the implications of this research involve the first instance of data collection of oil-fired heating systems. “We don’t have any data on residential heating oil consumption because it’s not a regulated utility like natural gas or electricity,” said Pride. This data also represents a more convenient way for the homeowner to also determine how much oil they are using to heat their homes.

These devices have now been implemented in Tanana, Fairbanks, and now Kotzebue. Each of these areas represents a different-sized Alaskan population, as well as varying temperatures. Those wishing to participate in the survey must meet certain criteria, one of which being that the home the device is installed in only being heated by oil.

The data also informs one of ACEP’s broader goals of implementing renewable resources. Measuring how much oil is being used to heat a home is another means of calculating the energy required to provide the heating. Comparing this energy data to the energy data of a renewable source of energy can provide useful information on how to implement that energy source.

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