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Can a Rebreather Be an Asset in Commercial Diving?
What is a rebreather? A rebreather is a type of breathing device used by various people that differentiates it from others on the market by its ability to recycle the gases you exhale, reusing them in a continuous flow cycle. If you are a professional diver or professional diver you have no doubt heard of these systems but have probably never used them. Professional divers generally use a surface-supplied diving system to work, but technical divers use rebreathers for freedom of movement and for small fines by way of necessary decompression.
The way the rebreather works is based on some basic and simple scientific principles. A rebreather enables you to inhale the air you inhale instead of releasing it in the form of air bubbles. The rebreather primarily removes the carbon dioxide content of the exhaled air using a small amount of sodium hydroxide, an alkali in the scrubber.
Carbon dioxide is removed in the form of solid calcium carbonate. The oxygen you use is replaced by using small canisters of pure oxygen to put fresh oxygen into the air as the breathing cycle resumes. The rebreather maintains optimal oxygen content through oxygen sensors included in the breathing set. A negative feedback mechanism controls the oxygen-delivery rate.
The rebreather has several advantages over other breathing apparatus available on the market, making it an asset in certain situations. The rebreather offers improved gas efficiency. Conventional breathing wastes oxygen because the air you breathe is 16% oxygen, the rebreather recycles the oxygen for reuse. The rebreather is lighter than other commercially available breathing devices. This is illustrated by the fact that the rebreather contains only pure oxygen, leaving behind 78% of the nitrogen content of atmospheric air.
With a rebreather, you can expect much less decompression sickness because the nitrogen in the breathing system is kept to a minimum threshold. Allows divers to stay in the water longer than traditional scuba gear. Rebreathers produce little or no bubbles and cause minimal disturbance to aquatic life. Divers sneak around to catch underwater life unawares.
Over the years, rebreather diving has killed many people, some of whom were thought to be competent divers, due to complications caused by owners not familiarizing themselves with their diving gear before venturing out. The number of diving fatalities involving rebreathers has been increasing in the United States since 1998, from 1 to 5%. Common diving disorders when using a rebreather include blackout in deep water due to hypoxia when the partial pressure of oxygen of the rebreathed air becomes too low to sustain life, the partial pressure of oxygen being too high leads to oxygen toxicity, reaching hyperoxic levels. Disorientation, severe headache and hyperventilation due to high carbon dioxide content in recycled air. This is usually due to a malfunction in the scrubber system. For these reasons, you’ll find that a rebreather diver training course focuses more intensely on safety than a standard professional diving or scuba diving course.
The rebreather is undoubtedly a great piece of technology that is considered an indispensable asset in many professional diving fields. There are pros and cons but it is up to you to accept your responsibilities as a rebreather diver and dive safely. A professional rebreather diving course would be a good way to start.
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