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The Nitrogen Alternative

Written by Courtnay Mitchell

Experts in the tire industry indicate that oxidative aging is one of the primary causes of limited tire life. Oxidative aging is caused by the diffusion of air through the sidewall of the pressurized tire to the outside atmosphere. Tests have shown that if tires are inflated with nitrogen, there is a significant reduction in tire failure.

Oxygen in the air diffuses through the walls causing uneven wear and making tires more susceptible to rim corrosion and blow-outs. Parker Hannifin has recognized the inherent downfalls associated with the use of compressed air for tire inflation. The result is TireSaver, a nitrogen generating alternative which provides a cost-effective solution.

Nitrogen permeates through the tire at a rate of 35% slower than oxygen. Under inflated tires build up heat and break down the rubber compounds over time. Of all the tire blowouts, 60% are caused by under inflation.

Using nitrogen as opposed to regular compressed air containing oxygen can improve fuel efficiency up to 4% and extend tire life up to 25%. A dry, inert gas used to inflate tires for improved performance, nitrogen allows for a safer ride by maintaining proper inflation pressure. It also allows for cooler running temperatures because nitrogen disperses heat more rapidly than standard compressed air. This can significantly reduce the chance of a blowout by preserving the integrity of the rubber.

Regular compressed air contains oxygen, which diffuses through a tire at a significantly faster pace than nitrogen. Oxygen has also been shown to be responsible for rubber deterioration, rim corrosion, under-inflation, overheating, pressure increase due to heat build up, and uneven wear due to improper inflation. Using nitrogen as an alternative to compressed air effectively reduces or eliminates these problems associated with the oxygen contained in standard compressed air.

However, while safety should be our number one priority, it is often impossible to avoid becoming tangled up in the financial headaches of budgeting expenses each year. Of course, it’s important to give street officers access to the best technology available on the market, but at the same time, we are forced to remain wary of our departmental budgets. Now, with TireSaver, there’s new technology, providing enhanced safety, which is cost-effective and just might pay for itself.

How does the use of nitrogen as opposed to compressed air measure up from an economic standpoint? Tire procurement, maintenance, and replacement from blowouts can add up when calculating the costs of operating a fleet of vehicles. Using nitrogen to inflate tires can help prevent premature casing failure and allow tires to be retread many times.

Besides extending tire life up to 25% and improving fuel efficiency up to 4%, using nitrogen to inflate your tires also saves you time and money as it eliminates the need to check tire pressure and top off tires. Finally, repairing a blowout can cost $500 or more once you consider the cost of a service call as well as tire replacement. If these additional and often unexpected costs can ultimately be prevented by filling your tires with nitrogen, you can be sure to save your fleet money in the long run.

The Nitrogen Generator does all of this by producing high purity nitrogen from compressed air. Using a simple wall mount installation, the generator allows inflation of up to 32 truck tires per hour. It requires no storage of nitrogen, and operates in the low pressure range up to 150 psig. The TireSaver also inflates tires at the same rate as compressed air.

Among the many features and benefits of the generator is the automatic shut down, which translates to less wear and tear on the compressor. The auto shut down also means less energy use. Another benefit to this system is the broad operating temperature range; nitrogen can be generated in a cold garage bay without electricity.

Furthermore, the system is quiet, contains almost no moving parts, and can even be connected to your existing compressed air supply, making installation very simple. The membrane will not degrade over time and only requires simple annual maintenance to provide consistent high performance. Finally, the compact wall mount system offered frees up floor space.

Instead of wasting valuable man-hours from officers topping off tires or waiting for a service truck after another unexpected blow-out, consider an alternative. Safer and more cost-effective, the TireSaver solution might just save more than a few tires.

Courtnay Mitchell is the Associate Editor for Police Fleet Manager. She can be reached at cmitchell@hendonpub.com.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2005

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