As mining industry safety standards are becoming more stringent than ever, miners can get the most out of off-the-road (OTR) tyres with Nitralife’s nitrogen filling.
Offering nitrogen tyre inflation, Nitralife believes it is very effective at preventing tyre fires and explosions.
Over the past couple of decades, there have been recorded instances of these tyres catching fire and, in some cases, actually exploding – with potentially serious consequences.
“When a tyre is under load on the road, it is continuously flexing. Over time, flexing and the resulting heat lead to the accumulation of tiny rubber (carbon) particles and other flammable compounds inside the casing,” said Tom Sowry, Marketing Director of NitraLife explains.
“When a tyre is inflated with compressed air, oxygen is added to this mix. Now if heat is added by a bad repair or some kind of mechanical failure, the stage is set for a potentially lethal explosion.”
In an extension of this overheating scenario, on certain mines, nitrogen tyre inflation has been used to protect tyres against lightning strikes.
The power of lightning is such that it will earth through the tyre to ground, and has in the past been the cause of tyre fires.
There have instances of mines parking their vehicles with air-inflated tyres in safe areas during lightning storms – an expensive exercise when one considers the cost of downtime.
“To date, we are not aware of an instance of tyre combustion at any mine using our nitrogen tyre inflation systems,” said Sowry.
Cost is also another good reason why the mining sector has increasingly adopted nitrogen tyre inflation.
Nitrogen permeates through tyre walls approximately four times more slowly than oxygen, and 117 times more slowly than water vapour. Under the sometimes very harsh conditions under which OTR tyres operate, nitrogen inflation ensures that tyre pressures remain optimal for longer.
“Tyres at the correct pressure flex less, and are less likely to overheat, a factor that is a major cause of premature tyre failures. Based on many years’ experience and customer feedback, we conservatively estimate that nitrogen tyre inflation extends OTR tyre life by at least 10%,” Sowry points out.
“Oxygen and water vapour degrade rubber gradually weakening tyre casings. By removing those elements, tyres last longer, particularly if they are being used in harsh climatic regions where heat and moisture are prevalent,” he said.
He adds that oxygen and water vapour also rust the steel rims of OTR vehicles, as tyre beads do not seat well on rust-pitted rims, which leads to consistent pressure loss and the risk of tyres running under-inflated.
Furthermore, for most of their operational time, haul trucks drive on the steep gradients of unsurfaced pit ramps, which places tyres under even greater stress. In these testing conditions, correct tyre inflation is more important than ever.
On remote mines, NitraLife nitrogen generators offer a trouble-free solution to removing oxygen and water vapour from inside tyres.
“The generator is completely pneumatic – requiring no electricity – has no moving parts and is fed air by a conventional compressor, requiring minimal maintenance.”
NitraLife was founded in 1996 as a local, pioneering supplier and manufacturer of nitrogen generation equipment. The company was the first internationally to use a membrane separation process to generate high-purity nitrogen for commercial tyre inflation.
With this innovative flagship product, NitraLife was also the first to actively promote the use of nitrogen inflation in heavy transportation and latterly passenger vehicle tyres; and subsequently also in large off-the-road (OTR) mine vehicle tyres.
In 2016, NitraLife diversified into supplying nitrogen generators to the industrial sector with the development of the NitraCut generator, a product, which, today, is mainly used by the laser cutting and fabrication industries.
NitraLife was established in 1996 and has been at the forefront of nitrogen tyre inflation technology, was the first internationally to use a membrane separation process to generate high-purity nitrogen for commercial tyre inflation and subsequently also in large off-the-road (OTR) mine vehicle tyres.