Will my mobile phone blow up the Petrol Station?Follow article
Now I'm no RF design engineer (Radio Frequency), but having worked over the last few years with companies producing products from simple ISM band radios to military grade microwave communications and sophisticated jamming equipment, I like to think I know a little about RF.
This brings me to my story of when I pulled into the petrol station yesterday whilst talking on my mobile phone. My friend who was driving jumped out and began to fill up, whilst I continued my conversation. A few moments later an irate voice came over the loudspeaker telling me to stop using my mobile phone as it is dangerous to do so on the forecourt.
A bit of an overreaction I thought? Firstly I was sealed inside the car, and secondly, to my knowledge, there is absolutely no evidence that transceiver devices such as mobile phones can cause a explosion by igniting fuel vapour?
However, there are signs posted all over the forecourt about not using your mobile phone? There appears to be a few theories around, including RF being the cause or the potential sparking from the battery contacts that can potentially ignite fuel vapour. The average mobile phone kicks out about 1 to 2 watts at peak power, so generally it's only at its maximum output when its furthest from a base station. 1 to 2 watts is barely enough heat to cause an explosion, especially when considering it takes about 1 minute for a 1000 watt Microwave oven to boil a cup of water, and that’s concentrated energy shielded in a box. Interestingly enough, in the UK, you may well have noticed that many Petrol Stations have cellular masts on their roofs, so a slight contradiction here I think!
In fact the most likely way to cause an explosion is from static electricity. The best way to clean yourself of static electricity is to ground yourself by touching the body work of your car as you step out onto the forecourt. By doing this, when you start to fill up, you should then be discharged of any static leaving your fingers that could ignite fuel vapour.
If you have any views or comments on this subject, please feel free to comment.
Below is a video from one of my favourite TV's shows that you may enjoy on this subject.