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Breathing performance of regulators

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Breathing performance of regulators

A typical graph produced when testing the breathing performance of a diving regulator

A diving regulator is a device that reduces the high pressure in a diving cylinder to the same pressure as the scuba diver's surroundings. The breathing performance of regulators is a factor in choosing a suitable regulator for the type of diving to be undertaken, as it indicates the ability of a regulator to meet the demands placed on it at depth and under high breathing loads. It is desirable that breathing from a regulator requires low effort even when supplying large amounts of air. It is also recommended that it breathe smoothly without any sudden changes in resistance while inhaling or exhaling. Although these factors may be judged subjectively, it is convenient to have a standard by which the many different types and manufactures of regulators may be compared.

Various breathing machines have been developed and used for assessment of breathing apparatus performance.[1] Ansti Test Systems developed a turnkey system that measures the inhalation and exhalation effort in using a regulator.[2] Publishing results of the performance of regulators in the ANSTI test machine has resulted in performance improvements.[3]

EU Standard

In the European Union the standard EN250:2000 defines minimum performance standards for "Open-circuit self-contained compressed air diving apparatus".[4]

The standard contains limits on inhalation and exhalation pressures and overall work of breathing. It specifies the following, under test conditions of a breathing rate of 62.5 litres (2.2 cu ft) per minute and an ambient pressure of 6 bars (600 kPa):

  • Work of breathing: <3.0 joules per litre
  • Peak respiratory pressure: ±25 mbar (±2.5 kPa) (inhalation or exhalation)
  • Inhalation work of breathing: <0.3 joule per litre
  • Pressure spikes with no measurable positive work of breathing: <10 mbar (1 kPa)
  • Pressure spikes with measurable positive work of breathing: <5 mbar (0.5 kPa)

Although a regulator meeting the above limits will supply sufficient air where the first stage feeds a single second stage, it is not necessarily capable of supplying sufficient air in all circumstances when a single first stage feeds two second stages simultaneously.[5]

US Military

In the United States Military, scuba regulators must adhere to performance specifications as outlined by the Mil-R-24169B, which was based on equipment performance until recently.[6][7][8]

See also

Work of breathing


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  4. ^ ISBN 0-580-35713-9 British Standards Institution
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