Parker Hannifin Corporation has joined the Get Nitrogen Institute, a non-profit organization formed in 2005 to promote the use of nitrogen rather than air in filling tires. (Costco, the first retailer to offer nitrogen in its tire centers throughout North America, is a sponsor of the Institute.)
The use of nitrogen in tires offers two main benefits: the maintenance of a consistent inflation pressure over longer periods of time and longer tire life. Those lead to improvements in fuel efficiency of up to 4% compared to vehicles running on underinflated or degraded tires.
Maintaining the appropriate inflation pressure in tires is one of the basic techniques in optimizing fuel efficiency in a vehicle. Nitrogen permeates through the tire at a rate of 35% slower that oxygen (air). The lower permeability results in higher pressure retention.
Nitrogen is also a dry gas and disperses heat more rapidly, resulting in cooler-running tires. It also significantly slows the chemical aging process associated with oxygen and the moisture contained in the compressed air. A study by Ford presented to the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society found that the use of N2 as the inflation medium significantly slowed down or even halted changes in rubber properties over time.
Nitrogen tire inflation is used in the aerospace and racing industries and is also beginning to make inroads into the long-haul trucking industry.
Parker Hannifin makes nitrogen generators, and has more than 10,000 in operation worldwide. It produces N2 generators for auto and tire dealers under the TireSaver and TireSafe brand names.
The generators use hollow fiber membrane technology to purify air into a stream of high purity nitrogen. This technology is also being used to generate nitrogen gas at the point of use for a wide variety of applications including general manufacturing, food processing and packaging, chemical blanketing, and chemical analysis.