Diving air compressor

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A Diving Air Compressor is a gas compressor that can fill diving cylinders with high-pressure air pure enough to be used as a breathing gas.

File:Compressor filling.jpg
Filling a cylinder from the panel


Modern diving compressors are three- or four-stage-reciprocating air compressors that are lubricated with a very high-grade compressor oil (a few use ceramic-lined cylinders with O-rings, not piston rings, requiring no lubrication). Oil-lubricated compressor operators must only use lubricants specified by the compressor's manufacturer. Special filters are used to clean the air of any residual oil (see "Air purity").

The compression process helps remove water from the gas, making it dry, which is good for reducing rust in diving cylinders and freezing of diving regulators, but causes dehydration, a factor in decompression sickness, in divers who breathe the gas.

Air purity

In addition, the compressed air output by the compressor must be filtered to make it fit for use as a breathing gas. The following filters remove:

Periodically, the gas produced by a compressor must be tested to ensure it meets air purity standards. The following impurities are checked for:

The bank

Often compressors are connected to a bank of large, high-pressure cylinders to store compressed gas, for use at peak times. As cheap and low-powered compressors are relatively slow at pumping gas, the bank can be filled automatically during idle periods, storing a large volume of pressurized air so that a batch of cylinders can be filled quickly one after the other without being delayed by the slow-running compressor.

The "cascade system" is used to decant economically from banks of storage cylinders so that the maximum possible gas is removed from the bank. This involves filling a diving cylinder by decanting from the bank cylinder with the lowest pressure that is higher than the diving cylinder's pressure and then from the next higher-pressure bank cylinder in succession until the diving cylinder is full. The system maximizes the use of low-pressure bank gas and minimizes the use of high-pressure bank gas.

Filling heat

If diving cylinders are filled too quickly, the gas inside them becomes hot as a result of adiabatic heating, increasing in pressure, which results in a drop in pressure when the cylinder cools later. Cylinders are often filled at a rate of less than 1 bar (100 kPa or 15 lbf/in²) per second to reduce this increase in temperature. In an attempt to cool the cylinder when filling, some people “wet fill”, immersing their cylinders in a cool water bath. This increases the risk of internal cylinder corrosion by moisture from damp components entering the cylinder during filling.

Gas blending

Compressors are often linked to a gas blending panel connected to a bank of oxygen and helium cylinders.

External links