During each DEMA Show, one is bound to see in addition to the latest models of BCDs, regulators, fins, etc. some cool looking gadget or gizmo that sets us salivating on the spot. And then there will that one item that stops you in your tracts and scratching your head thinking Whisky Tango Foxtrot is that?
One such item was a really a weird alien-looking diving helmet called the Hydroid Aquabreather.
What this new diving apparatus is promising to be is a Hi-Tech fully closed-circuit rebreather incorporated into the (albeit rather large) helmet (weighing 9.9 lbs./4.5 kgs) that the manufacturer claims is capable of providing a diver a 60-minute runtime to a maximum depth of 147 feet (42 metres).
For functionality, each Hydroid Aquabreather is equipped with two reactors designed to accommodate user replaceable pop-in regenerative cartridges. The cartridges are cylindrical in shape about the size of a can of soda made of fluoroplastic (PTFE) which house the chemicals used for generating life supporting oxygen while at the same time removing the harmful CO2.
Being a closed-circuit rebreather, monitoring the composition of your respiratory mix – partial pressure of oxygen O₂ is displayed on heads up monitor in the Aquabreather’s visor. According to Aquabreather’s website electronics present do not actually control system, but rather only function as an information center. Should the unit’s parameters reach critical state, the analyzer activates both audio and visual signals.
Pushing the “cool” aspect aside, see everything housed together around your head naturally begs the question, what possibly could go wrong?
For one, each chemical on their own can be highly volatile in nature when a mishap or mechanical failure takes place. For example, the sorb used for the task of removing CO2 can turn into a caustic mixed by way of direct water intrusion, whereas something like a chemically activated oxygen generator poses a possible risk of fire. Then of course is all normal risks associated with diving rebreathers like hypoxia, hyperoxia and hypercapnia.
So, does it work, or is it all vaporware?
Watching the Aqaubreather being demoed in the pool set up at the DEMA Show’s, the diver was able to stay down for a while, abet, he didn’t do much moving around.
Plus, I couldn’t help but notice that almost the entire time he was submerged, he remained a semi prone position on his back looking at the surface.
For a little more entertainment, watch James Blackman of Divers Ready give a walk-through of the Hydroid Aquabreather.
As for what one these units will cost is to be determined, which also goes for who or what agency will provide training and certification.
In the event it doesn’t work out as a viable diving apparatus, there is always Halloween.