Comparative Study on Decompression Pumps for Dry Combat Submersible

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has awarded Air Squared Phase I SBIR funding for a dry combat submersible (DCS) depressurization feasibility study.

The S351 Dry Combat Submersible Prototype

The S351 Dry Combat Submersible Prototype

USSOCOM is investigating the achievable possibilities to depressurize dry combat submersible (DCS) hyperbaric spaces while at diving depth. Regulating decompression on ascent following underwater activity significantly decreases the risk of oxygen toxicity, nitrogen narcosis, and decompression sickness. Existing crewed decompression is achieved via surface decompression or staged decompression obligations; however, surface decompression requires supplemental shipboard facilities while staged decompression exposes divers to unpredictable underwater conditions and adds significant time to diving operations. In both cases, considerable time is needed between the completion of dive tasks before crewmembers may undertake further duties, obstructing mission schedules. Introducing a positive displacement scroll decompression pump on a DCS with sufficient capacity would relax the staged decompression obligation and allow the vessel to quickly ascend. The benefit would extend to covert missions requiring deployment at sea, transport at depth, and then rapid ascent in hostile areas minimizing health and mission risks.

Air Squared has received Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) funding for a six-month comparative study on different positive displacement technologies and their feasibility as DCS decompression pumps. Air Squared will assess six different compressors models, spanning four positive displacement technologies, to determine what is feasible from the state-of-the-art. The investigation will define innovative solutions for decompression at depth, with the selected technology to be developed in a Phase II effort.

Twelve performance parameters are targeted by SOCOM for the decompression pump. Air Squared intends to demonstrate its patented, liquid-cooled, oil-free, scroll compressors are best suited for hyperbaric decompression. Providing clean, breathable air to the DCS servicemen and women as directed by SOCOM is best achieved with an oil-free pump.

Phase I studies conclude in the second quarter of 2020 with potential Phase II development to begin in the last quarter of 2020.

This material is based upon work supported by a Phase I SBIR award by the Department of Defense under the subtopic: Depressurization Pump for Dry Submersibles (SOCOM192-002). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense.

UPDATE (June 11th, 2020) – Following a successful Phase I SBIR effort, Air Squared has applied for Phase II SBIR funding from USSOCOM.

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