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Nitrogen Tire Inflation

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by jake, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. jake

    jake Rookie

    Dec 13, 2003
    1
    I am trying to locate a tire installer that has the capability of inflating tires with nitrogen. Does anyone know of an installer that offers this service. I am looking in the Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County area. Information on the location and phone number of the installer would be appreciated. Thanks
     
  2. Bryan

    Bryan Formula 3

    I can't help with a supplier. However, I have been in discussions on N2 in tires on at least two previous occasions. The consensus (not 100% I admit) is that N2 in itself doesn't do anything. Air is 79% N2 as it is.

    Most think that the key is using a gas that is dry. That's a lot easier to find, but the benfoits are still minimal to many, esp in street driving; where the toires just don't get that hot.
     
  3. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
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    jake, just a thought but i work on aircraft and we use nitrogen services carts daily. its not uncommon for some enthusiasts to drain and refill the air in their cars and trucks. as stated above i dont see a benefit for street use, but perhaps you can try a aircraft service center in your area and see if the guys there can do it for you. all of the aircraft techs i know love ferraris and cars in general, so it may be really easy to arrange so they can see and hear one in person.
     
  4. Hubert

    Hubert F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2002
    2,642
    The Left Coast
  5. rexrcr

    rexrcr Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2002
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    Rob Schermerhorn
    For less than $300 you can DIY. Welding gas supply.

    The best way is with a vacuum pump and refill, but that doubles the equipment cost.

    Nitrogen is also a huge advantave over the long term as it doesn't age the rubber like O2 does.

    Best regards,

    Rob Schermerhorn
     
  6. rexrcr

    rexrcr Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2002
    1,572
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    Rob Schermerhorn
    From here: http://www.nitronics.com/research.htm



    The following is an excerpt from a research paper prepared by Lawrence Sperberg concerning the use of nitrogen gas for tire inflation.

    Million Mile Truck Tires - Available Today

    "Oxygen and Moisture - the Killer of Tires" by Lawrence R. Sperberg

    All pneumatic tires have suffered from a deterioration starting the day that tires were invented. That deterioration is chemical oxidation masquerading under the name of "tire fatigue".

    THE ENEMY - OXIDATION

    Causing the deterioration are oxygen molecules contained in the inflating air which is a mixture of gases - nitrogen 78%, oxygen 21%, argon 0.9%, and miscellaneous O.1%. Tires are designed to be protected from this deterioration by their liners which are supposed to keep air from percolating through them into the tire body, which they never do, and by chemicals called antioxidants or age resisters whose job is to intercept and neutralize any invading oxygen - which they do until they are themselves used up, which occurs too soon after a tire enters into service.

    So the deterioration spreads. It starts within the tire interior and moves outward. it first invades and consumes the tire liner. It then ravages the insulation rubber adjacent the liner. It marches inexorably outward - because of the pressure differential of the tire inflation on the inside and the atmospheric pressure on the outside. As the decay moves ever outward - the oxygen molecules react chemically with the unsaturated double valence bonds present in all rubbers, causing the rubber molecules to lose their strength and their elasticity, so that they no longer act as rubbers, but instead take on the characteristics of a non rigid plastic. The decay is constantly being fueled by the fresh all too often moist air being injected into the air chamber to maintain the desired inflation pressure.

    How do you get a truck tire to go a million miles? It's simple. TAKE THE OXYGEN OUT OF THE AIR!

    TRUCK TIRE TESTS

    A total of 175 truck tires were tested until they were worn down to the tread wear indicators (TWI). About 125 of these tires wore out without failing at mileages ranging from 125,000 to 225,000. About 50 of the tires failed physically at varying mileages generally on the low side. All the tires had been carefully monitored, measured for tread loss etc., and inspected at 10,000 mile intervals, a lot of them at 2000 to 3000 mile intervals. Tire sizes were mostly 11R24.5 & 11-24.5 with a very few 10R20 and 10-20's. About half of the tires had operated over the eastern part of the United States while the other half had run mostly in the southwestern part of the U.S.

    When the tires were removed from service small samples of tread rubber were taken from the shoulders of the unfailed tires and from the actual failed areas of the destructed tires. These specimens were then subjected to the electron microprobe examination that has been described previously. The examination was specifically directed at determining oxygen and sulfur levels which was best accomplished by using IOKV (10000 electron volts) electron beam And an exposure of 30 seconds.

    Both of the figures tell the same story. When a tire lives to wear out, the oxygen slowly migrates and permeates its way into and through the tire cord body and finally into the under tread and then into the tread itself. It takes a long time for an appreciable amount of oxygen to reach the tread since most of the oxygen gets waylaid along the way by the liner, and then the cord arid cord insulation compound.

    One reason that truck tires can run 250,000 miles with the original tread while passenger tires can only go 50 to 60,000 miles lies in the relative bulk of the 2 different tire bodies. The bulkier the body the longer it takes for the oxygen to work its way into the tread. Unfortunately the bulkier the body the higher is the heat buildup and the faster is the rate of oxidation of the available double bonds. Once the tire body is all oxidized the tire is dead no matter how much tread remains on it. The thinner the tire body the lower the running temperature and the slower the rate of oxidation with a correspondingly longer life.

    Practically all tire engineers throughout this century attribute the gradual loss in tire strength to be the result of "fatigue" when in reality this "fatigue" is nothing more than a slow inexorable oxidation taking place at the available double bonds of the rubber molecules.

    IMPROVED TIRE LIFE

    In one experiment involving 54 new 10.00-20 truck tires, 33 were inflated with nitrogen and 21 were inflated with air. These tires were run side by side on the same tractor units until they failed or until they wore to the tread wear indicators. In this case the 54 new truck tires, nitrogen inflation resulted in 26% more miles being run before tires had to be removed when wear reached the tread wear indicators.

    In the case of the failed tires a smaller percent of nitrogen tires failed physically (30% vs. 57%) and they gave 48% more miles before failing than did the air tires. This 48% improvement is due to the tire bodies lasting longer and not the better wearing properties of the tread which is the situation with the tires that lived to wear out.

    The experiments involving 54 new and 44 used tires running some 7,345,497 tire miles in drive axle service, when viewed in light of the election microprobe experimental findings presented earlier, depict a clear cut picture of what nitrogen inflation can do for the transportation industry - cost wise as well as safety wise.

    HOLDING PRESSURE BETTER

    Today probably 99% of all tires are tubeless - truck, passenger, giant - and these tires are inflated with air, and all too frequently with wet air, i.e. air where the water has not been drained from the compressor tank as it should be. This moisture laden air (oxygen catalyzed by water) attacks the paint in the wheel well ultimately penetrating the paint and oxidizing the iron below it to form iron oxide or rust. Even aluminum is not immune from rusting, forming aluminum hydroxide, that gives an extremely fine dust that is difficult to even see inside the tire. The iron oxide rust is present within the tire in varying sizes ranging from coarse to extremely fine. Aluminum hydroxide dust is never coarse only extremely fine.

    Whenever a tire is checked for its inflation pressure the pressure gauge requires a small gulp of air to activate the gauge. When the small gulp of air escapes from the tire the turbulence created picks up the finely divided rust and the dust enriched gulp of air passes around the open valve core which has been opened by the tire gauge. When the valve core drops backward into place after the gauge is removed some of the tiny rust particles get trapped between the rubber or plastic seal and the metal housing surrounding the seal.

    This results in an extremely slow air leak that all too often escapes detection by the person gauging the tire and unless a metal valve cap which has another sealing surface in it is screwed onto the valve stem the tire will continue to lose air, albeit very slowly. When a larger rust particle is trapped between the core and housing, the escaping air is easily recognized so that proper action can then be taken immediately to correct the problem.

    The perennial problem of low tire inflation can be effectively solved by the simple expedient of using nitrogen to inflate tires. Nitrogen is dry and contains no moisture. Nitrogen is inert so rust cannot form since there is neither oxygen nor moisture present to cause oxidation of the wheel.

    Copyright 1985 & 1996 Lawrence R. Sperberg, Probe Forensic and Testing Laboratory, El Paso, Texas. All rights reserved.
     
  7. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
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  8. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior

    Nov 27, 2003
    407
    Okay, seems reasonable, but this statement:

    "One reason that truck tires can run 250,000 miles with the original tread while passenger tires can only go 50 to 60,000 miles lies in the relative bulk of the 2 different tire bodies. "

    Glosses over the fact that most truck tires run in straight lines, on highways, whereas most street cars make turns that scrub tires more often. The number of turns per mile on cars is substantially higher than the number of turns on trucks, per mile. Therefore, the comparison of mileage vs. mileage for trucks is not terribly applicable, because you're not comparing apples to apples.

    I've seen 25 year old tires sill hold their air. The outside may be cracked, and they are probably not safe, but they run fine. If the goal of using nitrogen is to prolong tire life (timewise), then it might be an interesting idea. However, the benefits seem a bit far-fetched to me. Maybe if you have a Porsche 959 (only uses one kind of tire) that is going to be placed into storage for 10-15 years, it might make sense (or if the car is going into a museum with original tires). For everyday use, seems like way overkill to me.

    -Wayne
     
  9. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior

    Nov 27, 2003
    407
    One more thought - most tires I have seen have been cracking on the outside (like from the CA or AZ sun). Filling the inside with Nitrogen can't protect against that...

    -Wayne
     
  10. charliek

    charliek Karting

    Nov 9, 2003
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    Charles Krop
    On the same note. I just got the original wheels and tires for my Boxer. They have not been on the car for the last 10 or so years and have been stored inside. They look new with no cracking. Can these tires be driven on or is it unsafe.
     
  11. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior

    Nov 27, 2003
    407
    Hmm, 10 years. I really wouldn't chance it - tires are very important, especially if you drive the car hard...

    -Wayne
     
  12. charliek

    charliek Karting

    Nov 9, 2003
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    Charles Krop
    Thanks Wayne, actually they are 20 years old, they are the original tires that came on the car from Ferrari in 1983. They do look fine but I know its not wise to take the chance.
     
  13. dan360

    dan360 F1 Rookie

    Feb 18, 2003
    2,669
    Boston
    I can see the point for a LT storage, but given I went through a set of PZeros on my 360 in 9000 miles and a year and a half (the rears were pretty much approaching slick status which made driving in the wet "interesting")... I don't see that Oxygen damage is a major factor for me :)
     
  14. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    6,333
    Well lest see: tires are 20 years old. In 1983 the best performing vehicles cornered at 0.83 Gs, while in 2003, the best performing vehicles can corner at 1.1 Gs. Tire technology is more to credit for this than suspension technology.

    Do you really want to be driving around and be blown off by a mazda protogee in the turns?

    Put some modern Max performance rubber on the dang thing.
     
  15. KurtK328

    KurtK328 Formula Junior

    Mar 6, 2001
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    Kurt Kjelgaard
    In the flying business we use dry nitrogen in the tires according to a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Airworthiness Directive (AD87-08-09, amendment 39-5613).
    The reason for the directive is as follows:

    "To eliminate the possibility of a chemical reaction between atmospheric oxygen and volatile gases from the tire inner liner producing a tire explosion, accomplish the following...........".

    To comply with this directive, operators must ".....ensure that all aircraft tires mounted on braked wheels do not contain more than 5 percent oxygen by volume............"

    This directive is valid for aircraft ranging from DC-9 to Boeing 747.

    There is no mention of corrosion, degradation of tire rubber etc.
    This could of course be because FAA basically takes care of safety and not economy.

    I believe that using nitrogen in car tires is throwing money out of the window - I don't think car wheels will reach the temperatures of aircraft wheels (200 C or above is not unusual) and therefore the tires won't be as hot either.

    I don't know who and what Lawrence Sperberg (nitronics.com) is, but I guess one of his tasks involves selling nitrogen.

    Just my two Eurocents
     
  16. airbarton

    airbarton Formula 3

    Nov 11, 2002
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    Chuck Barton
    I agree with Dan and Kurt. Sounds like a big waste of time and money. If you drive your car as many miles a year as I do, they will not last long enough to see any benefit from the Nitrogen. I would think this whole O2 degridation thing, Nitronics is talking about, takes a really long time. Maybe if you only drive your car a couple hundred miles a year and let it sit the rest of the time it might be justified, but it seems a bit rediculus otherwise. I also wonder what Lawrence's motivation is. Like Kurt said, maybe he is trying to sell Nitrogen!
     
  17. ferrarifixer

    ferrarifixer F1 Veteran
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    Jul 22, 2003
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    Using nitrogen has been std practice for most good race teams for some while now.

    For racing, it ensures better pressure stability between hot and cold extremes, and the guaranteed dryness means you can be sure of not getting any boil overs from moisture inside.

    Sometimes, in racing, the start pressures for a cold tyre may have to be dangerously low in order for the hot pressure to be perfect....nitrogen can be the difference between damaging your tyre from excessive flex, and not....

    For the road, it probably is a bit over the top, but hey...so is driving a 300km/h Ferrari when the limit is 100km/h.......

    In brief terms...the molecular structure of the nitrogen is larger than an air mix, so it leaks more slowly and your pressures stay in the window for longer....maybe 3 months instead of 2 as a crude guess for most cars.

    I offer it as an option to my customers, and have it in stock at all times....but that's really because I'm equipped for the racing. I doubt I'd bother with it if I only did road cars.
     
  18. joeyy

    joeyy Karting

    Nov 11, 2003
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    long island
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    joe
    nitrogen is best left for slick tyres on a race track. the softer rubber as well as pressure swings between hot and cold are why we use a more stable gas for racing applications. also street performance tyres and truck tyres are made very different from each other for good reason. one is made for smoothe riding and aggressive cornering (lots of scrub) and the other is made for heavy loading and long life ( much harder compounds)
     
  19. bill365

    bill365 F1 Rookie

    Nov 3, 2003
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    From all that I have ever heard and read, Nitrogen as a tire filler is better than air, including the reasons that have been posted previously. I have never heard any mention of detrimental effects associated with Nitrogen. Now whether someone wants to go to that level is a personal question, who among us buys the $50.00+ wax? Nitrogen is fairly cheap and readily available, so................
     
  20. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    6,333
    For those who dislike the cost structure of nitrogen, I get my tires filled with nitorgen at absolutely zero cost! All you really need to do is to make friends with you Ferrari service guy what also happens to be a race prep shop.
     
  21. joeyy

    joeyy Karting

    Nov 11, 2003
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    Mitch,

    That is a thinking mans solution!!!
     
  22. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior

    Nov 27, 2003
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