Compact nitrogen generator fills race car tyres

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Nexa Racing is using TyreSaver units from Parker Hannifin to fill its race car tyres with nitrogen in an effort to optimise on-track performance.

Compact nitrogen generator fills race car tyresThe Process Filtration Division of Parker Hannifin has supplied its TyreSaver nitrogen generator technology to Nexa Racing, the Formula BMW UK Champions. The TyreSaver units enable the team to fill the cars' tyres with nitrogen efficiently within particularly demanding timescales, thereby significantly improving their control over their performance on the race track.

The Nexa team entered the Formula BMW UK Championship in 2005, going on to win the competition in 2006. They attend 10 race meetings a year leading up to the world finals, this year in Valencia, Spain. With a live audience of 15-30,000 at each race and thousands more on TV worldwide, an outstanding performance at each event is crucial, with no room for error in the preparation and tuning of the cars.

Andy Kidby, Managing Director of Nexa Racing, explains: "We need to fill the car tyres with nitrogen extremely quickly on race days. We only get the tyres from Michelin one hour before the cars are due on the track to compete, and we need firstly to remove the air from the tyres and then refill them with nitrogen comfortably within this short time period. Using nitrogen to fill tyres rather than air enables longer term stability of the tyre pressure to be maintained due to slower leakage, while offering better grip and handling.

"The Parker TyreSaver enables us to fill our tyres efficiently while allowing us to retain control of both the purity of the nitrogen and of the tyre pressure, from one race to another. This was a critical requirement when looking for the right product, as up to 70 per cent of suspension adjustments can be made through adjusting tyre pressure in a racing environment such as Formula BMW. Tiny changes in pressure can mean the difference between winning and loosing so accuracy in the nitrogen generator is crucial to us."

More efficient operation

The TyreSaver is based on Parker's innovative hollow-fibre membrane technology, which makes it possible to separate a compressed air feed into nitrogen and an oxygen-enriched air stream. Due to their composition, the Parker membranes are claimed to be more efficient than competing materials, allowing the diameter of the fibre to be increased, resulting in purer nitrogen and, ultimately, increased performance for the race cars.

With virtually no moving parts, the TyreSaver units offer reliable, trouble-free operation with almost no maintenance. They can either be connected to an external nitrogen storage vessel or directly to the filling piston, and will automatically switch on and off, depending on the nitrogen demand.

The TyreSaver is said to be the smallest tyre filling unit available, making it suitable for trackside use, and it is quick and easy to install, with an integrated high-quality compressed air treatment unit; alternatively air can be sourced from a dedicated compressor. Parker claims that its nitrogen generator can achieve competitive results with significantly less air pressure than other methods of nitrogen separation, eliminating the need for expensive compressor upgrades or heaters, lowering operating costs and increasing system reliability.

Andy Kidby at Nexa Racing believes the results speak for themselves: "Along with being compact and easy to use, the TyreSaver is allowing us to fill tyres incredibly fast, while retaining control and accuracy at all times, effectively offering us another tuning tool. Our performance this season, with Ross Curnow currently second in the table, is testament to the Parker product's quality."

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