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An In-Depth Look at Saturation Systems - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Saturation diving is the most prestigious form of commercial diving. It allows divers to avoid the timely decompression process that is usually required for deep dives by putting them in a saturation system, which is basically a pressurized chamber, for 28 days before beginning their dive.

The system is pressurized at the same level as the sea depth that the diver will be working at, thus allowing them to dive deep quickly without stopping periodically for decompression.

Without using a saturation system, divers diving to depths of over 50 meters would need to stop in regular intervals when ascending back to the surface to avoid decompression syndrome, a condition in which gas bubbles can form in the diver's body because of reduced pressures as they move further towards the surface of the water.

The condition is potentially fatal, which is why long periods of time must be spent decompressing. The time needed for decompression generally increases as the diver descends deeper and deeper. However, once divers spend a certain amount of time at a high depth, their bodies become saturated with inert gas, and there is no need to add any additional time to the decompression process. Saturation systems work to saturate the divers' bodies with inert gas before the initial dive. Thus, only one decompression is needed when the divers ultimately leave the saturation system, saving hours of time.

A saturation system is typically made up of a living chamber, a transfer chamber, and a personal transfer capsule. The living chamber, where the divers spend most of their time, consists of beds, bathrooms, and recreational spaces. The transfer chamber is where divers go before and after a dive to prepare and then remove their diving gear, respectively.

As indicated by its name, the personal transfer capsule is responsible for transporting divers from the saturation system to their underwater work site. The capsule transports up to three divers at once, so that one diver can maintain the mechanism during the mission. A hot water system is generally also present, serving to heat up sea water that is used to warm the gas that the divers breathe in. In addition, a life support system within the personal transfer capsule maintains conditions at a healthy level.

The saturation system also offers a complex communication system that allows divers in the personal transfer capsule to communicate effectively with those in the control panel. The system includes a speech unscrambler that allows individuals at different pressure levels to communicate.

Finally, a gas reclaim system saves significantly on gas costs by recycling helium-based breathing gas that the divers breathe in. A machine removes carbon dioxide from the gas, and then it is mixed with oxygen so that it can again become breathable.

Aqua Air Industries offers a state of the art saturation diving system consisting of a high quality decompression deck chamber, diving bell, launching system, and more. If you are part of a commercial diving company, contact us today to learn more.


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