Before understanding the benefits of nitrogen filling in tyres, let’s know about nitrogen. Our article will cover all important aspects ranging from the critical meaning of nitrogen to its comparison with air filled tyres.
What is Nitrogen?
Nitrogen is a gas that is available in abundance in the atmosphere. Its a chemical element with a symbol N. It is present in all the living organisms on Earth. Nitrogen is the primary composition of our DNA.
How is Nitrogen used by living organisms?
It is available in the form of nitrates in the soil. These nitrates when absorbed by plants are used to build their base constituents of DNA and amino acids. These are further converted to animal constituents when animals consume plants. Microbes in soil convert back the nitrogen compound to nitrate for the plants to use. Hence completing the ‘nitrogen cycle’.
Further nitrogen fixing bacteria, make nitrates directly from nitrogen available in the atmosphere.
One of the best characteristics of Nitrogen is that it is an inert gas and it doesn’t react with other elements in normal circumstances. Though it’s an inert gas, it’s not among the noble gasses as its reason for being inert is different. Nitrogen is a diatomic molecule and referred to as N2. A nitrogen molecule has a triple bond between its atoms, which is strong and needs a lot of energy to break and participate in a reaction which is not possible under normal circumstances. Consequently, it doesn’t support oxidation and is non inflammable. These characteristics exhibited by this element could be made use to make our lives better.
Actually no, but in case of compounds like ammonium nitrate which is commonly used as fertilizers, can also be used to make explosives. When weak bonds of hydrogen and oxygen break, nitrogen atoms form strong triple bonds with other nitrogen atoms. This releases huge amounts of energy. One triple bond releases more energy when it forms than is needed to break the three single bonds that bind the nitrogen. This is perceived as an explosion. Also, the newly formed nitrogen molecules form a gas, which expand rapidly and send shock waves.
What are the uses of Nitrogen?
Nitrogen is used in a wide range of industries. As it is inert, attracts less moisture and doesn’t react easily, it is used in the food and packaging industry to keep food fresh and crispy and also to provide cushion effect to prevent damage that could be caused during transportation.
It is used in electronic industries.In electronic industries it is necessary to maintain an inert atmosphere while manufacturing electronic components. Electronic boards contain minute components that are soldered appropriately to obtain desired results. Oxidation occurs if oxygen is present during soldering and may cause malfunctioning of the product if the oxygen particles become embedded between the solder and the material. The solder will be weakened, and defects are formed. Oxygen helps oxidation. Alternatively,nitrogen reduces the occurrence of oxygen molecules – thereby strengthening the solder and preventing oxidation from occurring.
Another important use of nitrogen is in the fertilizers. Plants use nitrogen in the process of photosynthesis,during which they manufacture their own food. But plants cannot absorb nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. It makes use of nitrate available in the soil.Fertilizers like ammonium nitrate can be used to increase fertility of the soil.
One more use of nitrogen that is being debated nowadays in the automotive industry is the use of nitrogen filling in tyres instead of compressed air. Using Nitrogen in tyres instead of air has certain benefits, which are worth considering.
Is Nitrogen filled tyres better than air filled tyres?
Even though there is no much remarkable difference that could be considered between Nitrogen filled tyres and air filled tyres, it is still being observed that the Nitrogen filled tyres have real advantage over the air filled tyres when high speed is considered.
Nitrogen has been used for a long time in racing car and aircraft tyres as the pressure is consistent and doesn’t change with temperature. Since race cars and aircrafts tend to reach higher speeds, nitrogen filled tyres provide better traction , stability and control.
What are the benefits of nitrogen filled tyres over air filled tyres?
Nitrogen filling in tyres can stay without leaking for more time than that filled with compressed air because even though air and nitrogen both leak through microscopic gaps present between the rubber molecules, nitrogen leaks slowly as nitrogen molecules are bigger in size and can’t easily sneak through the rubber. Therefore, a stable pressure is maintained in the tyres for a longer time. A proper inflation pressure means better gas mileage and money saved on fuel. Maintaining right pressure in tyres also helps to have a better hold and a safe driving experience.
Compressed air contains water vapour, which is called humidity. This can accelerate oxidation of the metallic parts leading to rusting of tyres. Also, humidity content may cause variation in pressure when there is change in temperature. On the other hand, Nitrogen is an inert and dry gas and doesn’t react with other elements. Compressed nitrogen has no humidity, as a result, maintains stable pressure and also doesn’t corrode the rims. This improves the longevity of tyres.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by .3% for every 1 PSI drop in pressure on all four tires.” As nitrogen helps in maintaining constant pressure,nitrogen filling in tyres would assist in improving fuel economy.
Even, people in India, living in cities like Delhi and Bangalore, where they have to commute long distances to work in their own vehicles, are opting for N2 air filling, as it is a better choice for their soft road tyres. Nitrogen filled tyres can robustly maneuver on bumps and ditches and still provide comfortable riding experience. They also help achieve fuel efficiency.
The difference between air filled and nitrogen filled tyre is more noticeable while driving long distances on highways at a speed of about 80-100 kilometer per hour. At high speed, tyre temperature tends to rise leading to expansion of air and tyre burst. This can be dangerous when the vehicle is moving at high-speed and may lead to accidents.Alternatively nitrogen filled tyres are pretty stable at high temperatures,as nitrogen does not expand on heating and it is said to create a cooling effect.
In order to reduce road accidents which is currently at a whopping 1lakh per year,the Govt is considering bringing new regulations in tyre manufacturing industry. It includes nitrogen filling in tyres as it maintains stable pressure, hence minimising chance of tyre bursting due to excessive heat.
Nitrogen filling at tyre shops are available nationwide. A search on the net for Tyre shops having nitrogen filling lists a dozen of them that are near you. These sell nitrogen filled tyres and also refill tyres brought in by customers. Car dealerships do nitrogen filling for free when you purchase tyres with a car. There are some of the best nitrogen air filling in Noida and around. The process of filling includes filling and purging in succession and diluting the oxygen concentration in a serial process.
While air filling is free at most of the gas stations , nitrogen filling cost is about Rs. 40-50 per tyre which comes to about Rs. 250 for all the four tyres. Despite the refill cost, it doesn’t need frequent refills as pressure is held constant for a longer time. This amount is undoubtedly affordable to a four wheeler owner. There is certainly no harm in trying out something new as it has some benefits. Well, if it is a concern that most gas stations are not installed with Nitrogen filling equipment, then it’s not an issue. When air is filled from any local gas station,it contains more than 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and remaining 1 percent miscellaneous gasses. So, it’s absolutely safe to fill air in nitrogen filled tyres but becomes less effective.
All that’s said about advantages, there are some disadvantages. Though it’s simple, it is time consuming for a tire technician to fill tires with continuous purging and diluting oxygen. But most shops use a machine that not only generates almost pure nitrogen by straining the oxygen out of compressed air, but will also automatically go through several purge cycles unattended. Still shops tend to charge for the nitrogen generator, filling system and technician’s time as the dealer looks forward to getting some return for his investment. Another disadvantage is that an amount of Rs 10 per tyre is charged to check pressure in nitrogen filled tyres while it is free for tyres filled with compressed air.
Saying that N2 air filling in tyres makes no difference and it’s a marketing trick is not completely true. They do have an edge over air filled ones. The best quality of nitrogen is, it is inert , not inflammable and doesn’t support combustion. As a result, averts fire or explosion in vehicle accidents.Even though no much difference could be noticed between nitrogen filled tyres and air filled tyres under normal circumstances, nitrogen filled tyres are considered safer. Hence, a good choice for cars and heavy duty vehicles as they travel long distances and reach higher levels of speed.