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In Pennsylvania, an innovative state grant program funded a new technology to increase fuel efficiency. The Nitrogen Tire Inflation System Grant Program, run by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, helped businesses invest in nitrogen tire inflation technology, which the state says will help drivers save money on gas.

There are several reasons why tires filled with nitrogen perform better than tires filled with compressed air. As John Hanger, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, explained to Coudy News, “Automotive tires filled with nitrogen rather than conventional air maintain their pressure up to four times longer.” That’s because nitrogen, a larger molecule, doesn’t leak through the rubber in tires as quickly as oxygen. Hanger added, “Because tires inflated with nitrogen maintain their pressure longer, they have to be checked less frequently and run at cooler temperatures—improving safety and handling.”

And filling tires with nitrogen, a process known as inertion, isn’t just better for safety and handling. Inertion also improves fuel efficiency, because vehicles operated with properly filled tires require less gas.

The nitrogen tire inflation program, part of Pennsylvania’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program, provided grants to more than 80 businesses between 2008-2010, distributing a total of $300,000 in funds. Businesses were able to receive a 50% reimbursement for the cost of purchasing nitrogen tire inflation systems. The 2009 DEP report to the Pennsylvania Legislature concluded that “the nitrogen tire inflation systems help to improve vehicle fuel economy while reducing the consumption of imported oil, and potentially extending the life of the tires.”

And Pennsylvania’s nitrogen tire inflation grant program didn’t just help businesses––the savings were passed on to drivers around the state. “By providing a stimulus to invest in advanced fuel-saving technology, Pennsylvania is helping its residents to better manage our natural resources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Hanger related. “Properly inflated tires are safer and more fuel efficient, which translates into saving money at the gas pump.”

Inerting tires with nitrogen improves safety, protects tires, and saves money on gas. It’s no surprise that more and more drivers are ditching compressed air for the benefits of nitrogen inertion.

Post Author: Genevieve Carlton Ph.D.

Ph.D. - Research Historian from Northwestern University. A writer and researcher she has published pieces for Ranker, Stacker and Atlas Obscura. She has published a nonfiction history book with the University of Chicago Press and a number of scholarly articles with top journals.

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