Tires are designed for a specific pressure, and fuel economy improves by over 3% when that pressure is conserved. However, the US Department of Energy estimates that incorrectly inflated tires waste 3.56 million gallons of gas each year. When tires are filled with nitrogen, they lose pressure four times slower than air-filled tires. Conserving the pressure of tires improves fuel economy, and charge is used more efficiently in the case of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles bring several environmental benefits by themselves, even before adding nitrogen-filled tires. They can run with renewable energy sources, something that is not possible with gas cars. A common argument against EVs is that they provide no benefit when fossil fuels still dominate the power grid. However, this is not the case:
- Even if a power grid still runs 100% on fossil fuels, electric vehicles reduce emissions in urban areas, concentrating them at power plants.
- Power stations burn fossil fuels more efficiently than gas cars, and they are subject to more stringent regulations.
- If a power grid is decarbonized in the future, electric vehicles transition to renewable sources seamlessly – they run with electricity regardless of how it is generated. On the other hand, gas cars cannot switch to clean energy, unless they are modified to become electric.
The benefits of electric vehicles are enhanced with nitrogen-filled tires, thanks to the increase in energy efficiency. However, there are still several barriers to overcome before EVs can become mainstream.
One of the main limitations for electric vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure. However, building owners can change this by adding parking spaces with EV chargers. This way, owners of electric vehicles can get charge in places other than their homes. If these units have fast charging capabilities, they can fill up an EV during an errand such as going to the supermarket. In addition, building owners who are seeking a LEED certification can earn points by having charging stations.
Since nitrogen-filled tires increase energy efficiency in an EV, each charge lasts slightly longer. The frequency of charging cycles is reduced, and EV batteries have a longer service life as a result. This is a significant benefit, since batteries are among the most expensive components in EVs.
The government can also incentive the use of electric vehicles with legislation. Perhaps the best example is the federal tax credit for EVs, which ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 per vehicle. The benefit applies separately for vehicles from each manufacturer, and it starts to phase out when 200,000 EVs of the same brand have been sold.
The full list of eligible vehicles for the tax credit has been published by the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Note that the benefit not only covers EVs, but also plug-in electric hybrids.
Nitrogen inflation and electric vehicles provide environmental benefits separately, and synergy is achieved when both concepts are combined. While nitrogen-filled tires reduce the energy consumption of vehicles, the use of EVs can help decarbonize transportation by switching to clean energy sources.
Nitrogen also reduces waste, since the gas is free of two corrosive agents found in the air: oxygen and water vapor. Tires not only lose pressure at a slower rate, but they also last longer. The noncorrosive nature of nitrogen is especially beneficial for metallic components of tires, such as rims. At the same time, EV batteries can have a longer service life with less frequent charging cycles.
Michael Tobias PE, LEED, AP, CEM
Founder of Chicago Engineers, New York, NY
Mandates Integration of Energy Efficient Green Technology
To Achieve Net Zero Energy Standards