A. The answer is not exactly black and white. If you look at the PRISM2 Assembly and Operational Checklists, they clearly state the tested duration of the scrubber. It reads:
“Maximum Scrubber Duration: 240 min (0.5% SEV CO2) using 6-12 @ 40 °F/4.4 °C, 1.35 slpm CO2, 40 lpm RMV, 60 fsw/28 msw” Operational Checklist
If you dive deeper, colder or in more strenuous conditions, the duration of the scrubber will be reduced. Hollis additionally suggests that once a scrubber is packed, then it should be used within 24 hours.
Based on easy, shallow diving, the math adds up. However, there are a few more things to consider.
Imagine that late Sunday afternoon, beyond the third hour of scrubber time, you run into a problem that forces you to exert a significant workload, such as executing a rescue. Is there a situation where you might be required to extend your dive time such as freeing an anchor, executing a search or descending to retrieve a lost piece of dive gear? Those unforeseen circumstances could take you well beyond the life of the scrubber. In the case of extreme workload, symptoms of high CO2 can go unnoticed since you are already breathing hard.
Caution is prudent. If you want to leave yourself some solid contingency room, it is always best to start with fresh sorb on the second day. If you are diving from a boat that does not permit repacking a canister on the vessel, then buy an additional inexpensive scrubber basket that you can take pre-packed and sealed in a dry bag.
Note: The Prism2 rebreather has completed 3rd party testing to the EU standard 14143 and met all acceptance criteria. These tests include unmanned testing of scrubber capacity in 40 m and 100 m depth.
Some of my diving colleagues have asked about whether such a small light can have adequate runtime for two serious cave or technical dives in a day. The answer is unequivocally, “yes!” The Sola Tech600 offers up a robust nine hours maximum burn time. Better yet, you can easily monitor the remaining capacity as you dive. This feature alone provides an unprecedented advantage over other lights. It acts as a fuel gauge, letting you know when you should power back the light and conserve.
Here is how I make a dive. The light offers three power levels with 3, 6 and 9 hours of burn time respectively. When I start my dive, I test the light during my pre-dive check and turn it off until my team is ready to enter the cave. There is no risk in damaging the light by turning it on and off, as there can be with expensive HID bulbs. When I enter the cave, I use the lowest power while I do my underwater S-drill and get the reel into the cave. There is no need for blasting the cave with light while I am focused on running line. When I reach larger passages, I turn up the light to medium or high depending on my buddy’s brightness. As the lead diver, I often turn it to medium so I don’t overpower my friends and risk missing a light signal from them.
While the light has more than 75% charge, I see three green lights on my fuel gauge. As it drops, those light change to yellow. Below 50% they turn red, but remember, the still means you have half the time remaining and that’s 1.5, 3 or 4.5 hours! At 25% you will finally see flashing red lights. I simply throttle the light strength to the appropriate level to get me through my dives and light the cave appropriately. When I reach the cavern zone or decompression, I either turn off the light or leave it low.
Let’s face it, there are not too many people who spend more than 3 hours a day in the dark zone of their tech dives, but knowing you can actually have up to nine hours with a really bright light, is very comforting. Manage your light resources and use the high power when you need it and you can enjoy the luxury of a tiny, comfortable and capable hand held light.
Q. Can you use nitrox in your diluent tank?
Yes. When working on a Hollywood set that was 15 feet deep, I actually filled both the oxygen and diluent tanks with oxygen. It prevented a lot of potential issues the actors could have experienced. But let’s consider the best recipe for diluent. First, it must be breathable at your planned maximum depth. Ideally, it should NOT match the PO2 of planned setpoint for maximum depth. You need your diluent to serve several purposes.
- Safe open circuit bailout
- Diluent flush to confirm sensors – you want to see some movement when you flush
- Capable of flushing loop upward or downward when hypoxia or hyperoxia is detected.
With those needs in mind, there is no reason why you can’t safely use an appropriate nitrox blend in a diluent tank. The shallower you dive, the more useful a rich mix may be for flushing a loop upward in the case of hypoxia and for conserving oxygen in your other tank.
Take a rectangular piece of chamois material and cut it like the pattern in the picture. You will end up with a really long strip of absorbent fabric. Now you can slip the chamois inside the countering and leave a tail hanging out the end. Hang it up overnight and the chamois will absorb all the remaining water.
A few years ago, I completed a Motorcycle Safety Class and was struck by the similarities to training rebreather divers. It was really good to be a student instead of an instructor for a change. It’s one of those experiences that reminds you what performance pressure feels like and reinforces the qualities of good instruction.
I have to say that I am accustomed to thriving and performing well in new learning situations. However, I has absolutely no background in motorcycles and started off at the bottom of the heap amongst my fellow students. Everything was new.
I was pleased to be given procedures and checklists that kept me on track. A pre-ride check let me assess the readiness of my bike. An ignition-check mantra helped me recall the steps for safely starting the motorcycle. Rules of the road engaged the entire class in safe operation on the driving range.
But when all was said and done, there were safe operators, people who didn’t have a clue and those of us who were trying hard to learn and never make the same mistake twice. Discovery learning always works best for me. There is nothing like almost dropping the bike to highlight the lesson of not using the front brakes in a curve!
I was also struck by the importance of giving-in a little and letting the bike become an extension of my body. When you fight technology, things don’t work out very well. When you look up and move with the bike, things get much easier. Looking far down the road and anticipating the possibilities ahead, keep you safe.
Finally, I was very aware, that the calm demeanor of my instructor was a critical aspect that contributed to my best performance. When a second coach raised his voice, class performance fell apart and people started to make mistakes.
So what can you take away from comparing driver training to diver training with your new rebreather?
- Find a patient instructor who will allow you to make some mistakes, so you can learn important lessons through discovery.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you weren’t going to make any, you wouldn’t need to be in a class!
- Work towards becoming a physiological extension of your rebreather. Don’t keeping fighting it for buoyancy or over-thinking it for counterlung volume.
- Always use checklists and verbal keys as important safety steps.
- Keep your head in the game and don’t let yourself be distracted by the performance of others.
- Look ahead and anticipate problems and issues. Rehearse those scenarios until you become fluent in the new technology and motor skills.
Question: You are swimming along the deck of your favorite wreck. For some reason your PO2 is dropping, causing frequent oxygen injections to catch up to your stepping. You keep dumping gas. What’s going on?
Answer: It is possible that you have a leak in your ADV that is causing small amounts of gas to sneak into the counterlung. If your rebreather has a manual diluent injection button, that could also be leaking. Failures always require you to abort the dive, but you can diagnose the problem on the dive boat by removing and replacing the diluent connections to the counterlung or ADV if your rebreather will allow. If fixing those connections does not help, then you may be in need of service on your diluent first stage.
Technical diver Gareth Lock focuses his attention on how human factors affect sport diving accidents. He has created an invaluable resource for CCR Divers with countless contributions to understanding human error in safety. Lock serves in the Royal Ari Force and often correlates his experience as a tactical flight instructor to application in diving. His company Cognitas Incident Management and Research also manages the Diving Incident Safety Management System (DISMS) which is an open, transparent, detailed, and importantly, confidential reporting system for sport divers irrespective of their preferred training agency or method of diving. Ultimately, the idea is to improve diver and diving safety through 2 main strands of work; detailed reporting of the incident to allow other divers to “learn from others’ incidents” and secondly, collection of statistics from a wide diving community unconcerned with agency affiliation or bias.
Locke offers very cogent examination of the recently released Coroner’s Report on Phil Gray’s death on a CCR. His article offers excellent links to further articles, resources and exercises that help us better understanding how the human machine interface operates in rebreather diving. Read the article here.
Phil Gray was a respected CCR diver and instructor who paid the ultimate price with his life after failing to replace dated oxygen sensors. A prolific educator and much loved man, this may be the greatest lesson he leaves for our community. It is worth an hour of your time to carefully read the coroner’s report that was carefully composed with the help of numerous medical and rebreather experts.
Question: It is always recommended to carry a bailout bottle when diving deeper than 18m/60 feet deep, but how would you handle an emergency situation if your bailout second stage was breathing wet and you did not have a BOV on your unit?
Answer: Let’s face it. You have had a really bad day if you bailed from your rebreather to your bailout tank only to discover that your second stage is filling up with water. The good news is that you can still access the gas in your diluent tank and bailout tank while breathing with a technique that is called “open loop breathing.” With this technique, you use your ADV to fill the inhalation counterlung. With the rebreather mouthpiece in the closed circuit position inhale the fresh gas and then exhale through your nose or around the edges of your lips. Press the ADV to fill the bag again and take your next breath. Each time you need a breath, flush the bag with fresh gas, inhale and then dump the gas as with open circuit breathing.
The best news of all is that this should be very preventable. Each time you go for a dive, ensure that you practice a bailout drill, both using the BOV (if you have one) and the bailout tank and regulator.
Absolute pressure – The total pressure imposed by the depth of water plus the atmospheric pressure at the surface.
Absorbent pads – Absorbent material placed in a breathing loop; used to soak up moisture caused by condensation and metabolism.
Accumulator – A small chamber that provides a collection vessel to ensure proper gas flow of oxygen to a solenoid valve.
Active-addition – A rebreather gas-addition system that actively injects gas into the breathing loop (such as a constant-mass flow valve in certain kinds of semiclosed rebreathers).
Atmospheres absolute (ata) – The absolute pressure as measured in atmospheres.
Atmosphere (atm) – A unit of pressure equivalent to the mean pressure exerted by the Earth’s atmosphere at sea level, or by 33 fsw, or by 10 msw (equal to 1.0 bar or 14.7 psi).
Automatic diluent valve (ADV) – A mechanically-activated valve that adds diluent gas when increasing pressure associated with descent or lowered volume triggers the device.
Axial scrubber – A type of CO2 absorbent canister design. In this design, the gas flows through the canister in a linear fashion from one end of the canister to the other.
Backplate – A plate made of stainless steel, aluminum or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic which attaches to a rebreather and allows for the use of a webbed or soft harness system.
Bailout – A failure requiring a dive to be terminated, usually using open-circuit gas.
Bailout gas – Tanks carried by the diver to allow for escape from a serious situation, often conducted with open-circuit technique.
Bailout valve (BOV) – An open-circuit regulator built into the mouthpiece assembly that allows a diver to switch from closed-circuit mode to open-circuit without removing the mouthpiece from their mouth. When the loop is closed, the BOV activates, supplying open-circuit gas directly from the onboard diluent tank (in a closed-circuit rebreather) or supply gas cylinder (in a semiclosed-circuit rebreather).
Bar – A unit measure of pressure, roughly equivalent to 1 atm.
Barotrauma – A pressure related injury.
Bottom-out (counterlung) – A term used to refer to the situation when a rebreather counterlung becomes completely collapsed after a full inhalation.
Boom scenario – An explosion or implosion of a hose or other component usually resulting in rapid gas loss or catastrophic loop failure.
Boyle’s Law – The volume occupied by a given number of gas molecules is inversely proportional the pressure of the gas.
Breakthrough − The point at which a scrubber allows CO2 to bypass the scrubbing process to be re-inspired. The fraction of inspired CO2 normally rises extremely quickly once breakthrough is reached.
Breathing hose – Large bore hoses in a rebreather breathing loop, through which the breathing gas travels.
Breathing loop – The portion of a rebreather through which gas circulates, usually consisting of a mouthpiece, breathing hose(s), counterlungs, non-return valves and a CO2 absorbent canister.
Buddy lights – Warning lights that indicates system status including life-threatening oxygen levels; usually monitored by the buddy diver.
Buoyancy control device (BCD) – An inflatable bladder which allows a diver to precisely adjust buoyancy.
Calibration gas – A gas of a known composition used to calibrate gas sensors, particularly PO2 and PCO2 sensors.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) – Waste gas generated by the process of metabolism and exhaled by the diver into the breathing loop.
Carbon dioxide retention − Condition in which arterial CO2 is seen to increase in divers due to insufficient ventilation, excessive dead space in the breathing loop, or ineffective CO2 scrubber filtration.
Catastrophic loop failure – A complete failure of the breathing loop of a rebreather such that it cannot be recovered in closed-circuit mode; usually occurring from a ripping or tearing and subsequent flooding of a unit or a carbon dioxide emergency.
Central nervous system (CNS) – The human brain, spinal cord, and associated major neurological pathways that are critical for basic life-support processes, muscular and sensory systems.
Central nervous system oxygen toxicity − A serious form of oxygen toxicity, usually caused by exposure to breathing mixtures with an oxygen partial pressure in excess of 1.6 ata. Symptoms may include visual disturbances, hearing anomalies, nausea, twitching, dizziness and severe convulsions.
Chain of custody − Refers to the chronological documentation that captures the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence, typically for legal purposes.
Channeling (of scrubber canister) − Condition in which improper packing or excessive settling forms channels that allow some CO2 to pass through the scrubber without being absorbed.
Check valve – A one-way, non-return valve that directs gas to move in only one direction through the breathing loop.
Closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) – A type of rebreather that usually includes some form of oxygen control system and generally only vents gas upon ascent.
CO2 absorbent – A material that chemically binds with CO2 molecules (Sodasorb, Drägersorb®, lithium hydroxide, Sofnolime®, Micropore ExtendAir, etc.).
CO2 absorbent canister – A canister in the breathing loop containing CO2 absorbent.
Condensation – Water that forms when water vapor cools and forms liquid droplets. In a rebreather, heat conduction through the breathing hoses and other components of the breathing loop lead to condensation. This process may be exacerbated by materials with greater heat conductivity and lessened with insulation of the breathing loop components.
Conduction (thermal) – Heat flow between objects in physical contact; the inverse of insulation.
Constant mass flow valve – A type of valve that allows a constant mass of gas molecules to flow at a fixed rate.
Constant volume flow − A type of valve that delivers a constant volume, independent of ambient pressure, thus a flexible number of gas molecules.
Convection (thermal) – Heat flow through circulating currents in liquid or gas environment.
Counterlung – A collapsible bag connected to a rebreather breathing loop, which expands as a diver exhales and collapses as a diver inhales.
Cubic feet (ft3) – A unit measure of volume, defined as the space occupied by a cube one foot on each side; 1 ft3 = 28.3 L.
Current limited (oxygen sensor) − A condition in which a change in the load applied to a sensor is not met with a change in the current supplied by the sensor.
dcCCR – Diver-controlled closed-circuit rebreather. A manually operated rebreather which requires the diver to monitor oxygen levels and manually inject oxygen as needed to maintain an appropriate setpoint. Also known as a manual CCR (mCCR).
Decompression dive – Any dive that requires staged stops during ascent (determined by the decompression algorithm used).
Decompression model/algorithm − Mathematical algorithm used to compute decompression procedures. A variety of computational models and derivatives are available in tabular or dive computer form.
Decompression illness (DCI) – Injury that includes arterial gas embolism (AGE) and decompression sickness (DCS).
Decompression sickness (DCS) – Injury seen especially in divers, caused by the formation of inert gas bubbles in the blood and tissues following a sudden drop in the surrounding pressure, as when ascending rapidly from a dive, and characterized by severe pains in the joints, skin irritation, paralysis, and other symptoms.
Demand regulator – A valve that delivers gas from a pressurized source at or near ambient atmospheric pressure when the diver inhales.
Diffusion – The process in which molecules move from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration.
Diluent – A cylinder in a closed-circuit rebreather that contains a supply of gas which is used to make up the substantial volume within the breathing loop; a mixture capable of diluting pure oxygen.
Diluent purge valve/diluent addition valve – A manual valve used to add diluent gas to a breathing loop, usually through the counterlung or a gas block assembly.
Display integrated vibrating alarm (DIVA) – A light-emitting diode (LED) heads-up display module mounted close to the diver’s mask, offering information about various states of the rebreather such as PO2; this style includes a vibrating warning alarm when oxygen levels are unsafe.
Downstream – A relative direction with respect to the flow of gas through the breathing loop of a rebreather; the direction of travel of the diver’s exhaled gas.
Downstream check-valve – A one-way, non-return valve that directs exhaled gas to flow in one direction only, for a rebreather. This would typically be the mushroom-type valves that prevent subsequent re-inhalation of used gas and directs exhaled gas towards the CO2 scrubber canister.
Dynamic setpoint – Also referred to as a floating setpoint, it is a setpoint that changes to optimize gas use, no stop time and other consumables and dive variables. The floating setpoint can be determined by an electronic system or modified manually by a diver using a mCCR.
Equivalent air depth (EAD) – A formula used to help approximate the decompression requirements of nitrox. The depth is expressed relative to the partial pressure of nitrogen in a normal breathing air.
eCCR – An electronically controlled closed-circuit rebreather in which an electronics package is used to monitor oxygen levels, add oxygen as needed and warn the diver of developing problems through a series of audible, visual and/or tactile alarm systems.
Elastic load – A load on the respiratory muscles originating from the rebreather and/or diving suit. Materials in the suit and rebreathing bag may restrict breathing. As the diver breathes, the volume of rebreathing bag(s) changes making the depth of the bag(s) change. This depth change means a change in pressure. Since the pressure change varies with bag volume it is, by definition, an elastic load.
Electronically-monitored mSCR – A mechanical SCR with electronic monitoring. Electronics are used to inform the diver of PO2 as well as provide warnings and status updates, however the gas control is manually controlled by the diver.
Endurance (of scrubber) − The time for which a CO2 scrubber operates effectively. The duration varies with individual size, work rate, scrubbing material, depth, and ambient temperature.
Equivalent narcotic depth (END) – A formula used as a way of estimating the narcotic effect of a breathing mixture such as heliox or trimix.
eSCR – An electronic semiclosed-circuit rebreather where an electronics package monitors the PO2 and adds gas to maintain a floating setpoint that optimizes gas use and compensates for changing levels of diver exertion.
Enriched air nitrox (EAN) – A gas mixture consisting of nitrogen and oxygen; with more than 21% oxygen.
Evaporation (thermal) – The heat energy expended to convert liquid water to gaseous state. Evaporative heat loss results from humidifying inspired gases and the evaporation of sweat on the skin.
Exhalation counterlung – The counterlung downstream of the diver’s mouthpiece.
Failure mode, effect, and criticality analysis (FMECA) − Summarizes the study of all components that could fail, and identifies the type of failure, the probability, and severity as well as possible causes of the failure and mitigation and emergency procedures.
ffw – Water depth as measured in feet of freshwater.
Floating setpoint (dynamic setpoint) − A setpoint that changes to optimize gas use, no stop time and other consumables and dive variables. The floating setpoint can be determined by an electronic system or modified manually by a diver using a mCCR.
Flush (as in flushing the loop) – Replacing the gas within the breathing loop by injecting gas and venting bubbles around the edge of the mouthpiece or through a vent valve.
FHe – The fraction of helium in a gas mixture.
FN2 – The fraction of nitrogen in a gas mixture.
FO2 – The fraction of oxygen in a gas mixture.
Fraction of gas – The percent of a particular gas in a gas mix.
Fraction of inspired gas – The fraction of gas actually inspired by the diver.
Fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) – The fraction of oxygen inspired by the diver. In SCR operation, this figure is calculated using a formula that takes into account the diver’s workload.
fsw – Water depth as measured in feet of seawater.
Full face mask − Mask system that encompasses the entire face, in contrast with a typical regulator held in the mouth alone.
Galvanic fuel cell sensor − An electrochemical transducer which generates a current signal output that is both proportional and linear to the partial pressure of oxygen in the sample gas. Oxygen diffuses through a sensing membrane and reaches the cathode where it is reduced by electrons furnished by simultaneous oxidation of the anode.
Gas narcosis – A form of mental incapacity experienced by people while breathing an elevated partial pressure of a gas.
Harness – The straps and/or soft pack that secures the rebreather to the diver.
Heads-up display (HUD) – A light-emitting diode (LED) display module mounted close to the diver’s mask offering information about various conditions within rebreathers, such as PO2.
Heat exchange − Divers experience four primary avenues of heat exchange important in the diving environment – radiation, conduction, evaporation and convection.
Heliox – A binary gas mixture consisting of helium and oxygen.
Helium (He) – An inert gas used as a component of breathing gas mixtures for deep dives because of its very low density and lack of narcotic potency.
Henry’s law – The amount of gas that will dissolve in a liquid is proportional to the partial pressure of the gas over the liquid.
Hydrophobic membrane – A special membrane that allows gas to flow through it, but serves as a barrier to water.
Hydrostatic imbalance – See static lung load.
Hyperbaric chamber – A rigid pressure vessel used in hyperbaric medicine. Such chambers can be run at absolute pressures up to six atmospheres (more for some research chambers) and may be used to treat divers suffering from decompression illness.
Hyperbaric medicine – Also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is the medical use of oxygen at a higher than atmospheric pressure.
Hypercapnia/Hypercarbia – Elevated levels of CO2 in the body due to inadequate breathing, generally induced by elevated respiratory loads and/or inspired CO2. The level of CO2 maintained varies from person to person (e.g., CO2 retainers maintain relatively high levels). Effects of hypercapnia may include shortness of breath, headaches, migraines, confusion, impaired judgment, augmented narcosis, panic attacks, and loss of consciousness. Dangerous levels can be reached while the diver remains unaware. Recovery may take many minutes under optimal conditions.
Hyperoxia – A concentration of oxygen in the breathing mixture that is not tolerated by the human body, generally occurring when the inspired PO2 rises above about 1.6 ata. Symptoms include visual and auditory disturbances, nausea, irritability, twitching, and dizziness; hyperoxia may result in convulsions and drowning without warning.
Hyperoxic linearity – The condition that a PO2 sensor is linear at partial pressures of oxygen above the highest calibration point.
Hypothermia – Condition of low body temperature, defined by a core temperature falling below 35ºC (95ºF), substantially below the normal core temperature range of 36.5-37.5°C (97.7-99.5°F). Reaching a state of frank hypothermia is very unlikely in normal operational diving.
Hypoxia – A concentration of oxygen in the breathing mixture that is insufficient to support human life, generally occurring when the inspired PO2 drops below about 0.16 ata.
Inhalation counterlung – The counterlung upstream from the diver’s mouthpiece block.
Insulation (thermal) – The resistance in heat flow between objects in physical contact; the inverse of conduction. The standard unit of insulation is the ‘clo,’ with 1.0 clo (1 clo = 0.18°C·m2·h·kcal-1 = 0.155°C·m2·W-1 = 5.55 kcal·m2·h-1).
Integrated open-circuit regulator – A second-stage, open-circuit regulator which is built-in to a mouthpiece block; also known as a bailout valve (BOV).
Layering (thermal protection) – Base layer (hydrophobic) to wick water away from the skin and reduce conductive heat flow; mid-layer with high insulation value to reduce conductive heat flow; shell layer barrier to reduce convective heat flow.
Liquid crystal display (LCD) − An energy efficient display that relies on the light modulating properties of liquid crystals.
Light-emitting diode (LED) − A small, low power light source used for warning lights on rebreathers.
Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) – A type of CO2 absorbent material.
Loop vent valve – The adjustable overpressure-relief valve attached to the bottom of the exhalation counterlung, which allows excess gas and accumulated water in the breathing loop to be vented. Also known as an OPV.
Manual bypass valve – A valve on a rebreather that allows the diver to manually inject gas into the breathing loop.
Manual diluent addition valve – The valve on a rebreather that allows diluent gas to be manually injected into the breathing loop.
Manual oxygen addition valve – The valve on a rebreather that allows oxygen to be manually injected into the breathing loop.
Maximum operating depth (MOD) – The maximum operating depth of a breathing gas before reaching a predetermined PO2, usually 1.4 ata or higher. This depth is determined to safeguard the diver from oxygen toxicity.
mCCR – A manually operated closed-circuit rebreather which requires the diver to monitor oxygen levels and manually inject oxygen as needed to maintain an appropriate setpoint. Also known as dcCCR or diver-controlled CCR.
Metabolism – The physiological process where nutrients are broken down to provide energy. This process involves the consumption of oxygen and the production of CO2.
mfw − Water depth as measures in meters of freshwater.
msw − Water depth as measured in meters of seawater.
Mixed-gas rebreather – A rebreather that contains a gas mixture other than pure oxygen in the breathing loop.
Mouthpiece (of CCR) – The portion of a rebreather breathing loop through which the diver breathes. This usually includes a way to prevent water from entering the breathing loop and sometimes includes an integrated open-circuit regulator (BOV).
msw – Water depth as measured in meters of seawater.
Narcosis – A form of mental incapacity experienced by people while breathing an elevated partial pressure of a gas such as nitrogen or CO2.
Near eye rebreather display (NERD) – A heads-up display that duplicates the wrist unit or primary controller.
Nitrox – See enriched air nitrox.
No-decompression dive – Any dive that allows a diver to ascend directly to the surface, without the need for staged decompression stops. Also referred to as a no-stop dive.
Normoxic – A mixture of gas containing 0.21 ata oxygen.
Notified body − Agent that acts as the certifying authority and verifies that equipment testing was conducted properly in compliance with all applicable requirements.
Offboard diluent – A diluent gas tank that is clipped externally to a rebreather.
Offboard oxygen – An oxygen tank that is clipped externally to a rebreather.
Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) – A display type that does not use a backlight and is able to display rich blacks that offer greater contrast in low light applications such as diving.
Onboard diluent – A diluent tank that is integrally mounted on a rebreather.
Onboard diluent regulator – A first-stage regulator which attaches to the onboard diluent tank of a rebreather.
Onboard oxygen – An oxygen tank that is integrally mounted on a rebreather.
Onboard oxygen regulator – A first-stage regulator which attaches to the onboard oxygen tank.
Overpressure relief valve (OPV) – the adjustable valve attached to the bottom of the exhalation counterlung, which allows excess gas and accumulated water in the breathing loop to be vented; also known as a loop vent valve.
Open-circuit scuba (OC) – Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus where the inhaled breathing gas is supplied from a high-pressure cylinder to the diver via a two-stage pressure reduction demand regulator, and the exhaled gas is vented into the surrounding water and discarded in the form of bubbles.
Optode − An optical sensor device that measures a specific substance usually with the aid of a chemical transducer.
Oxygen consumption (VO2) − A measure of the work intensity. Resting VO2 is usually assumed to be 3.5 mL·kg-1·min-1 (1 metabolic equivalent [MET]). Aerobic capacity (VO2 max) can be described as multiples of 1.0 MET. Recommendations for minimum VO2 max to be maintained by divers range from a low of >6.0 MET to >13 MET.
Oxygen (O2) control system – The components of a rebreather which manage the concentration of oxygen in the breathing loop. The system usually includes sensors, electronics and a solenoid valve that injects oxygen.
Oxygen rebreather – A type of closed-circuit rebreather that incorporates only oxygen as a gas supply. The earliest form of closed-circuit rebreather, designed for covert military operations, submarine escape and mine rescue operations.
Oxygen (O2) sensor – Any sensor that produces a signal related to O2 pressure or concentration. In diving, the most common type is a galvanic cell that generates an electrical voltage that is proportional in strength to the partial pressure of oxygen exposed to the sensor.
Oxygen toxicity – Symptoms experienced by individuals suffering exposures to oxygen that are above normal ranges tolerated by human physiology. See pulmonary oxygen toxicity and central nervous system oxygen toxicity.
Partial pressure – The portion of the total gas pressure exerted by a single constituent of a gas mixture calculated by multiplying the fraction of the gas by the absolute pressure of the gas.
Passive addition – Gas addition systems utilized by some semiclosed-circuit rebreathers to passively inject gas into the breathing loop; usually achieved by a mechanical valve that opens in response to a collapsed bellow or drop in breathing loop gas pressure.
PN2 – The partial pressure of nitrogen in a gas mixture, usually referring specifically to the breathing gas mixture inhaled by a diver.
PCO2 – The partial pressure of carbon dioxide in a gas mixture, usually referring specifically to the breathing gas mixture inhaled by a diver.
PO2 – The partial pressure of oxygen in a gas mixture, usually referring specifically to the breathing gas mixture inhaled by a diver.
PO2 setpoint – The PO2 set by the diver, used to determine when a solenoid valve injects oxygen into the breathing loop.
psi − Unit of pressure measured in pound per square inch (1 psi = 55 mm Hg = 6.9 kPa).
Pulmonary oxygen toxicity – Pulmonary irritation typically caused by prolonged exposure to breathing mixtures with oxygen partial pressures in excess of 0.5 ata. This form of oxygen toxicity primarily affects the lungs and causes pain on deep inhalation as well as other symptoms.
Quality assurance (QA) − Methods to prevent mistakes or defects in manufactured products. QA can be applied to physical products in pre-production and post-production to verify that specifications are met.
Radial CO2 absorbent canister (radial scrubber) – A cylindrical CO2 absorbent canister design wherein the gas flows laterally from the outside to the inside of a hollow tube (or vice-versa), like a donut.
Radiation (thermal) – The flow of electromagnetic energy from any object to any cooler object separated by space (air or vacuum).
Rebreather – Any form of life-support system where the user’s exhaled breath is partially or entirely re-circulated for subsequent inhalation.
Redundancy − The duplication of critical components or functions in a system with the intention of increasing reliability, usually in the form of a backup in case of primary system failure.
Respiratory load – Any load or breathing impediment that makes it harder to breathe. Respiratory loads include breathing resistance, elastic loads and static lung load (hydrostatic imbalance). Elevated inspired CO2 will make a person breathe more which increases the effects of other respiratory loads.
Respiratory minute volume (RMV) – The volume of gas inhaled and exhaled during one minute of breathing.
Safety stops – Stops carried out during ascent not required by the decompression model being followed for the dive.
Scrubber – See CO2 absorbent.
Semiclosed-circuit rebreather (SCR) – A type of rebreather that injects a mixture of nitrox or mixed gas into a breathing loop to replace that which is used by the diver for metabolism; excess gas is periodically vented into the surrounding water in the form of bubbles.
Sensor validation − Methods to confirm the appropriate function of sensors, typically oxygen sensors.
Setpoint – See PO2 setpoint.
Shoulder port – The plastic shoulder connectors in a breathing loop which connect the breathing hoses to the counterlungs, sometimes serving as water traps to divert condensation and leaked water into the counterlungs and down to the overpressure relief valve (OPV).
Skip breathing – The practice of inhaling, holding the breath and then exhaling slowly in order to attempt to extend the time underwater by using less air. This practice can lead to buildup of CO2 (hypercapnia).
Sodalime – A general term referring to a chemical agent which reacts and bonds with CO2 and is commonly used in the scrubbers of rebreathers.
Solenoid valve – A valve that opens when electricity is applied to an electromagnetic solenoid coil; usually the type of valve used to inject oxygen into the breathing loop of a closed-circuit rebreather.
Solid state sensor − A sensor with no mobile parts that detects or measures a physical property.
Stack – Slang terminology referring to the CO2 absorbent canister.
Stack time – A term used to describe the predicted time that a canister of CO2 absorbent will last before it needs to be replaced.
Static lung load (SLL; hydrostatic imbalance) − The pressure gradient between the outside and inside of the chest imposed by underwater breathing apparatus. Comfort and performance can be adversely affected, especially during exertion. The lungs can be thought of as having a center (lung centroid) located approximately 17 cm below and 7 cm behind the suprasternal notch on the chest. SLL represents the difference between the pressure delivered by the breathing apparatus (at the start of an inspiration) and the pressure at the lung centroid. If gas is delivered to the diver at a pressure equal to the depth of the lung centroid then no SLL is imposed. A person immersed to the neck has pressure inside the chest at atmospheric and outside the chest at the elevated water pressure. This represents negative SLL and can be measured as the depth of the lung centroid. A negative SLL will make a person breathe at smaller lung volumes, while a positive SLL makes a person breathe at larger lung volumes. For scuba diving, the placement of the regulator determines the SLL. A regulator in the mouth of an upright diver imposes a negative SLL. If the vertical diver is head down then the SLL would be positive. A prone diver may have a slightly positive SLL. A diver swimming shoulder down will not have an SLL imposed. With rebreathers, the placement of rebreathing bags and the amount of gas therein determines SLL. Since gas collects at the top of the bags, the orientation of the diver also matters. The pressure delivered by the breathing apparatus is determined by the depth of the bottom of the gas bubble. The SLL is then equal to the difference between this pressure and the pressure at the lung centroid. A back-mounted bag will impose a negative SLL. A chest-mounted bag will impose a positive SLL. Over-the-shoulder bags with the right amount of gas in them may have a neutral SLL, but the actual SLL varies with gas volume and can be positive or negative. If a diver with an over-the-shoulder bag rebreather swims with a shoulder down then the SLL may be negative since the gas will collect in the upper bag; should the gas volume be large enough that all breathing is in the lower bag then the SLL will be positive. Should the gas volume in the upper bag be such that an exhalation forces some gas into the lower bag, then a sudden large pressure increase is required by the respiratory muscles.
Statistical dependence − A condition in which two variables are not independent.
Technical diving − A form of scuba diving that exceeds conventional limits, generally including dives that are deeper than 130 ft (40 m), using mixed gas, requiring multiple cylinders or decompression, or taking place within overhead environments.
Temperature stick − An array of thermal sensors aligned in the scrubber canister to monitor the thermal activity of the scrubber (measuring the advance of the thermal front) to provide information on scrubber depletion. Also known to as a Temstick or Thermal profile monitor (TPM).
Trimix – A gas mixture containing three constituents; usually oxygen, nitrogen, and helium.
Upstream – A relative direction with respect to the flow of gas through the breathing loop of a rebreather; the opposite of downstream.
Upstream check-valve – A one-way valve system that permits inhaled gas to flow from the inhalation breathing hose to the mouthpiece, but prevents exhaled gas from flowing backwards. This valve is part of the breathing loop system that enables circular flow of gas.
Venting breath – A type of breathing pattern used to purge gas from a breathing loop; accomplished by inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose into the mask or around the edge of the mouthpiece, thus creating bubbles.
Volume-averaged pressure (aka resistive effort) − Terminology used by US Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) to describe work of breathing (WOB) in correct physical units and physiological terms. It is equivalent to the difference between inhalation and exhalation pressures averaged across a diver’s breath, and is sensitive to flow resistance.
Voting algorithm/logic − The procedure in which rebreather electronics rely upon output from multiple sensors to determine when oxygen needs to be added and when sensors are faulty and signals need to be ignored. This approach assumes statistical independence of sensors, which may not be valid since the sensors are exposed to the same conditions for part of their history, possibly all of it if they are from the same manufacturing lot, and they are monitored by the same measurement system.
Whole-body oxygen toxicity – See pulmonary oxygen toxicity.
Work of breathing (WOB) – The effort required to complete an inspiration and expiration cycle of breathing. For a breathing apparatus, the work of breathing can be affected by breathing hose diameters, check valve design, scrubber design, depth, absorbent material, and other factors. The placement of counterlungs does not affect the WOB, but is a respiratory load by itself.
Workload – A representation of the level of physical exertion; often measured through oxygen consumption in a laboratory setting.