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Aerosol Tire Inflator Fire

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Tire Inflator Fire

Tire Inflator Explosion 1

Tire Inflator Explosion 2

Tire Inflator Explosion 3


Areas of Expertise

Michael Fox, PhD.



Aerosol Tire Inflator Explosion - Alabama

A large tractor-grater was used to smooth the dirt at an auto racetrack. The owners of the racetrack noticed that one of the large tractor tires was low so they added two large aerosol cans of a tire inflator product labeled as non-explosive. They also added some compressed air to bring the tire pressure up to about 30 psig.

Aerosol Tire Inflator Explosion - Mechanical Explosion- Click to view video
Click photo to view video of  test explosion.

The next day a mechanic came to do some repair work on the tractor that included welding on the tractor wheel to which the two cans of tire inflator were added the day before. The mechanic was shown the two cans of tire inflator and the fact that they were labeled non-explosive. The main propellant in the tire inflator aerosol was dimethyl ether. No sooner did the mechanic strike an arc on the metal wheel when it exploded, killing the mechanic. The role of Chemaxx was to access the inherent chemical explosivity of the aerosol tire inflator formula and to participate in simulation experiments. Chemaxx also contributed views on the Material Safety Data Sheet and Label for the product. The video shown here demonstrates the explosive force of the formula.

Dr. Fox is also a Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator who is also an aerosol expert. He made presentations at national societies on the fire and explosion hazards associated with aerosols and has published several peer-reviewed, scientific papers on the failure of aerosols.