Development of Distressed Submarine Decompression System Funded by the US Navy

Air Squared has been awarded a Phase I SBIR from the US Navy to develop a Seawater-Flooded Scroll Compressor with Tribrid Power system (SFSC-TP) for decompressing distressed submarines.

Seawater-Flooded Scroll Compressor with Tribrid Power System (SFSC-TP) Concept Rendering

Seawater-Flooded Scroll Compressor with Tribrid Power System (SFSC-TP) Concept Rendering

Broomfield, CO – Air Squared has received Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to develop a Seawater-Flooded Scroll Compressor with Tribrid Power System (SFSC-TP) from the US Navy. Funded under topic N181-047: Decompression of Atmosphere Onboard Distressed Submarine, the US Navy is challenging businesses to reduce the internal atmospheric pressure of a Distressed Submarine (DISSUB) without using the vessel’s electrical power

High-pressure emergency scenarios occur in distressed submarines that impede rescue missions as submarine crewmembers experience oxygen toxicity, nitrogen narcosis, and decompression sickness as atmospheric pressure builds up inside submarine compartments. The SFSC-TP is designed to reduce or eliminate these symptoms and improve survival by integrating a scroll compressor, expander, and turbine configuration. High-pressure seawater, available compressed air, and a self-contained battery pack provided the SFSC-TP with tribrid power that ensures reliable operations in high-pressure emergencies.

SFSC-TP Energy Flow Diagram

SFSC-TP Energy Flow Diagram

The key component of the SFSC-TP is the seawater-flooded scroll compressor that regulates how much power is required to decompress crew compartments to standard atmosphere (ATM). Engineered to control decompression from 5 atm to 1 atm, the scroll will compress the internal atmosphere and discharge it externally from the submarine. A semi-hermetic scroll expander supplies power via onboard compressed air, providing improved efficiency at shallow depths. At deeper depths, a scroll hydro-turbine uses seawater to supply power as the higher external pressure lowers the efficiency of the expander. The self-contained battery will supplement the difference in power needs regardless of depth, making the whole system tribrid redundant.

System design and modeling will continue through December 2018. If successful, a Phase II effort to prototype the system will begin in 2019.


Air Squared is the industry leader in oil-free scroll design and manufacturing. By introducing a simple design with fewer moving parts, scroll technology has established itself as a highly efficient, very reliable, cost-effective alternative. Through a growing line of compressors, vacuum pumps, and expanders, Air Squared makes the many advantages of oil-free scroll technology available to OEMs worldwide.

This material is based upon work supported by a Phase I SBIR award by the US Navy under the topic: Decompression of Atmosphere Onboard Distressed Submarine (N181-047). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Navy.