What’s a rebreather?

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A rebreather is a device that removes carbon dioxide from a diver’s exhaled breath and adds a small amount of oxygen, allowing for longer dives with less reserve oxygen and smaller tanks. It produces fewer bubbles, making it great for military or tactical use and less physically demanding. It also reduces the risk of disturbing objects within wrecks and promotes safer diving. However, divers require specialized training to use it, and it has limitations in extreme conditions.

A rebreather is an apparatus also known as a closed circuit underwater breathing apparatus or CCUBA. This device scrubs or removes carbon dioxide from a diver’s exhaled breath; a small amount of oxygen or an oxygen-gas mixture is added to the remaining breath to allow for a longer dive with less reserve oxygen and smaller tanks. There are far fewer bubbles emitted by a diver using a rebreather than one using traditional scuba gear. The oxygen in the escaping bubbles is filtered through the rebreather and used by the diver’s body instead of being wasted in the water. Using a rebreather, the diver is able to stay deep much longer than with traditional tanks.

There are many advantages to using a rebreather over traditional cylinders, both for the diver and for the underwater environment. By producing fewer bubbles, the diver is able to maintain a much more stealthy position in the water, making the rebreather a great military or tactical device. By inhaling the purge gases through the rebreather, the breathing mix is ​​much warmer and more pleasant on long dives, which makes the dive less physically demanding. Divers also experience less bending effects when using a rebreather, making this a safer method of diving and ascending from the depths.

When using traditional scuba diving equipment, divers exploring dangerous wrecks are subject to bubbles emitted which disturb objects within the wreck. Bubbles have the power to ignite the unexploded ordnance of sunken warships and can disturb dirt and silt, making it difficult to see and escape from a wreck’s inner clutches. More dangerous than this, however, is the tendency for the diver’s exhaled oxygen to become trapped in internal compartments and form large pockets of air. This trapped oxygenated air promotes rusting and wreck deterioration.

Divers require specialized training in using a rebreather, and the sensation of breathing scrubbed gas takes some getting used to. In the event that two or more divers encounter a problem at depth, the ability to simply switch back and forth with each other’s oxygen hose is not possible. This single factor convinces many divers to give up the technology and stick with traditional scuba gear. This rebreather has been tested at altitude by mountaineers with limited success. The equipment has not yet been designed to withstand extremely cold conditions.

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