(Update 29.08.2018: Added water air membrane; oxygen by electrolysis. Dieser Artikel steht unter “Atemgas” auch auf Deutsch zur Verfügung) This article is intended to define the concept for ensuring the appropriate habitat atmosphere to be used in the Calamar Park modules.
For the basics of breathing gas we recommend the Wikipedia article “breathing gas”:
- de: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atemgas
- en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathing_gas?oldformat=true
- Proposals for the habitat of Calamar-Park
- Pending sections
- Other sources
Guide value for electricity costs
As a guideline for the costs of electricity we can use 0.25 € per kilowatt hour.
If no air from the surface is used, it will be necessary to mix the necessary breathing gas. There are some necessary considerations.
Oxygen demand of a human being
A human has a respiratory minute volume of 8 l / min. With heavier loads (as can occur in an underwater habitat), this can increase three to four times. For a better calculation, we assume a respiratory minute volume of 20 l / min, at which a person converts about 1 liter of oxygen (O2) into carbon dioxide (CO2).
An oxygen tank with a volume of 50 liters at 200 bars (50 x 200 = 10,000 liters) would give a person with a consumption of 1 l / min appr. 10.000 minutes, or 166.66 hours, so almost one week ( 6.9 days).
Medical oxygen costs about 0.02 €/l (source: www.medizinischer-sauerstoff.de). It is offered in tanks of up to 50 liters and bottled to a pressure of 200 bars (sometimes 300 bars). A tank of medical oxygen with a volume of 50 l under a pressure of 200 bars would cost 200 €.
Oxygen for diving purposes, e.g. Air Liquide, costs about half (see: www.tauchausfug.de or Tauchcenter Dortmund) or 0.01 € / l. This reduces the price of a 50-liters tank from 200 to 100 €.
For use in our underwater station, we must add the following parameters:
- Transport Habitat-Surface-Land-filling station (contractor) and back
- Regular maintenance of the connections (outside the habitat)
- Regular maintenance of the tanks and official approval
- Usability for excursion dives via hookah, rebreather or mixed gas bottles
The handling of pure oxygen is not without risk. It should therefore be kept in mind, that all facilities are planned accordingly and the oxygen cylinders are installed on the outside of the habitat.
Although carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, the fear, that so-called CO2 nests near the ground may well be negligible, since gases would be sufficiently mixed by regular air movements inside the habitat.
Normoxic gas mixture (Normox)
This term has two different meanings: at Trimix diving a normoxic gas mixture describes the “normal oxygen content in the mixture” meaning that it is equal to the proportion in the ambient air (thus 21%). With the normoxic trimix, it is guaranteed that the gas supply can be breathed at any depth up to 60m and, thanks to the 21% oxygen content, a safe ascent to the surface will be possible without changing the gas. Trimix mixtures used for diving beyond 60m must have a reduced oxygen content to prevent exceeding the pO2 limits. Such mixtures may be hypoxic just below or at the surface. They are therefore called “Hypoxic” trimix.
In aquanautics (saturated conditions) “a normoxic breathing mixture (from “NORmal OXygen”) is one in which the partial pressure of oxygen at a specified depth is close to, or slightly above, the normal (surface) atmospheric value of 0,21 ATA (atmospheres absolute = bar).” (Koblick and Miller, 1984). The partial pressure of oxygen therefore has a fixed value for every depth. A normoxic gas mixture eliminates the risk of oxygen poisoning under increased pressure (= greater depth), while ensuring the oxygen demand of Aquanauts.
At greater depths, the amount of oxygen remains the same, although the percentage of total gas decreases.
Air supply from the surface
Up to a certain depth range, it makes sense to pump air from the surface into the habitat. The required compressors for this purpose compress air to the pressure prevailing at the depth of use of the habitat, and press them through umbilicals to the habitat. According to German Wikipedia “the hygienic minimum air exchange rate is about 0.3 / h. It is a minimum for ensuring fresh air, below which odor problems, dust and microorganism pollution as well as too high radon concentrations can occur. “
As a result, the entire volume of the habitat should be completely replaced every 3.3 hours *. The necessary delivery capacity of the compressor in l/min. for an ambient pressure habitat can be calculated as follows:
* this value has to be verified and changed if necessary
|Costs at complete air exchange by supply from the surface|
|separate compressor for excursions by hookah|
|Insulated compressor room in LSB (Boye) or inside habitat|
Example UWL Aquarius: UWL Aquarius has a volume of about 77m³ (= 77,000 liters), is located at a depth of about 20m (= 3 bar) and has two compressors, each with an output of 510 l/min. or a total of 1020 l/min. This results in an exchange rate of 226 minutes or 3.77 hours. The air in the habitat could therefore be completely replaced every 3 hours and 46 minutes:
You can find an article about the air exchange rate under the following links:
Carbon dioxide scrubbing by soda lime
Soda lime is a granulate that binds carbon dioxide. Therefore the air in the habitat would be ventilated through a canister of soda lime to remove the carbon dioxide from the air. Of course, the missing volume has to be replenished by oxygen elsewhere, while the nitrogen circulates unchanged.
When CO2 is filtered out of the station air, the amount of gas in the station will decrease and the internal pressure will drop unless gas in the form of oxygen or air is replenished. The carbon dioxide bound in a lime absorber occupies much less space than a carbon dioxide gas.
1 liter of soda lime absorbs about 120 liters of CO2. This results in a duration of 120 minutes = 2 hours stay (with an oxygen requirement of 1l/min/person). It costs about 5.33 €/l (soda lime “Spherasorb”, June 2018). This requires in 24 hours 12 liters of soda lime for the total price of about 63.96 €. A group of six people therefore has a soda lime demand of 72 liters/day for a total price of 383.76 €/day.
Soda lime is not regenerable and must be disposed after use or transported to and from the habitat. The saturation of soda lime is indicated by an indicator that causes the soda lime to discolour. The process is exothermic, so it creates heat.
To keep the air in the habitat free of CO2, the entire interior volume of the habitat must be completely routed through the scrubber every 3.3 hours *.
(* this value must be checked and changed according to specification, see also “Air supply from the surface”)
|Costs for removal of CO2 by soda lime|
|soda lime per day/person||63,96 €|
|energy for ventilation|
|disposal of saturated soda lime|
|costs for oxygen supply|
The functioning of soda lime is clearly explained on the following website (german): http://www.chemieunterricht.de/dc2/tip/17_10.htm
Carbon dioxide scrubbing by Monoethanolamine (MEA)
In this system the medium for CO2 scrubbing is monoethanolamine (MEA) C2H7NO. Therefore the habitat air is led into a chamber into which MEA is sprayed evenly. The chemical binds the CO2, while the purified air is given the same amount of oxygen before returning to the habitat.
Image Source: [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) oder CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons, User Mbeychok
The amines are regenerated by heating to about 260 °C (500 °F), during which the CO2 is released again and can later be disposed. One possibility for regeneration is the transport to the water surface, the warming by solar energy and the return to the habitat. In this case a corresponding tank would be necessary for the night. Another proposal was the use of a microwave oven.
One reason for avoiding amines is the likelihood that possibly escaping aerosols could smell stingy due to the relationship of amines with ammonia or sal ammoniac, they could be permanently damaging to health and could provide fertile soil for certain bacteria. To solve this circumstance activated carbon filter could be applied.
One topic to consider is the way in which gas/air and amines are introduced. If both components are supplied against each other, it is called countercurrent. Because the amines are swirled by the passing air, there is also a higher risk of aerosols that could potentially be harmful to health. If both the habitat gas and the amines are introduced from above, so that amines and gas flow side by side, it is called direct current. Due to the large appetite of the amines for carbon dioxide, the current direction for the CO2 uptake is irrelevant. Therefore, a DC system should be preferred; the amines are sprayed just like the air to be cleaned from above and discharged below.
An amine scrubber should be as big as a medium-sized compressed air compressor for scuba tanks.
Cellulose bound amines: It is possible to bind amines to cellulose and to direct the air through these membranes. This would require no liquid to pump in a circle and would avoid splashes and aerosols.
Climeworks: The Swiss company Climeworks builds plants that similarly filter CO2 from the atmosphere on a much larger scale. Smaller facilities, which would also be suitable for an underwater habitat, have the capacity to filter 135 kg of CO2 per day from the air and thereby develop a noise level of 70db. The regeneration takes place with hot water at over 100 °C. A demonstration plant had a capacity of about 40kg and would still be sufficient for a UW-Habitat. The company has an internet website at the following address: http://www.climeworks.com/our-technology/
Amine scrubber on the surface: One proposal was to position the amine scrubbers on the water surface in corresponding buoys. The habitat would be connected to them via lines. Regeneration would be done through solar energy.
Examples: MEA scrubbers are used in submarines such as the USS Nautilus. Since this is a nuclear-powered boat, there is also enough heat for regeneration available. Under the following link you will find various details:
CO2 scrubbing by sea water
One suggestion tried to mimic fish’s abilty to absorb oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide into the water. Would therefore a system be possible to purify the CO2 enriched air by a seawater spraying process?
Such a plant should operate in countercurrent; the air is supplied from below, while the water is sprayed from above. In this way, the air passes just incoming water before exiting. In the DC current, the air would at last pass through the already CO2 polluted water.
For this purpose, Calamar-Park developed a simulation program that calculates the necessary amount of water with a variable number of aquanauts and depth meters, amongst many other parameters. From this it is apparent that for the CO2 scrubbing of, for example, 2 persons at a depth of 20m, about 751 liters of seawater would be needed (see screenshot or corresponding article and original simulation program in the appendix (in progress)).
Supplying and injecting seawater in these quantities could be feasible, but would cause a not inconsiderable noise and take up a relatively large amount of space, so that a separate, well-insulated scrubber room would be necessary.
Example of a possible pump type: The “Flygt submersible pump Ready 4” has an energy requirement of 0.42 kW, a capacity of 240 l / min. And costs 541 €. Details can be found under the following link:
|Costs for removal of CO2 by seawater|
|Setup||pump 1 (standard)||541€|
|pump 2 (standard)||541€|
|pump 3 (redundance)||541€|
|pump 4 (redundance)||541€|
|washer casing||500€ (?)|
|insulated scrubber room|
|energy demand for pumps 5,04€/day (0,25€/0,42€) x2 x24h|
|energy demand for ventilation|
|costs for oxygen supply|
Aquanaut and adventurer Lloyd Godson used a biocoil for gas treatment in his BioSub project. In this system, Chlorella algae will convert carbon dioxide into oxygen in a coil of transparent tubes. Although it was a very impressive idea, the system did not work satisfactorily. All details about the Biocoil system can be found in the corresponding previous article.
Nevertheless, the idea deserves to be pursued further. Proposals of bio-modules, which remove carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air, produce oxygen and, ideally, support the food supply.
Still to come: BIOSMHARS, Bios experiments, Orta di Nemo, Eden Project
Between 1972 and 1973, scientists from the Soviet Union experimented in a project called Selena with an underwater tent whose membrane (possibly made of polytetrachlorethylene) should be permeable to carbon dioxide and oxygen. In the third part of this project series, an “artificial gill” was also tested, which was supposed to manage the gas exchange with seawater. (Miller and Koblick, 1984) Nothing is known about the results of these experiments, but it can be assumed that a successful conclusion would have led to the development of novel systems that obviously do not exist.
Oxygen by electrolysis
An electrolysis has a high energy requirement. If this amont of energy is available the generation of oxygen by this method would be very convenient. However, it requires distilled water, that can be easily produced. The electrolysis also produces hydrogen, which could be used to heat the distillation apparatus. However, this should be on the water surface and use the oxygen from the atmosphere. So electrolysis would be something if the habitat is far from everything (using solar panels), you have no compressor for the air supply from above and no oxygen in tanks.
Proposals for the habitat of Calamar-Park
(to be continued)
All previous and future concepts must ensure the following aspects:
- A trouble-free supply of oxygen
- The removal of CO2 from the breathing air
- The removal of harmful impurities
- An even supply of all habitat areas
- Availability of the scrubber medium
- Energy requirement of the washing process
- Method and energy requirement of the regeneration process
- Noise development of technical equipment (compressors etc.)
- Maintenance of technical equipment (on site, salvage, availability of spare parts, etc.)
- Redundancy (bridging in case of failure of technical components)
- Total cost of ensuring adequate breathing gas per person
- Method: Hookah (per umbilical to habitat) or by diver tank
- Tank refilling
- Emergency systems (for example during storms)
- Determination of the best combinations by branch-and-bound tree
- possible combinations
- US Navy Diving Manual Rev. 7
- Living and Working in the Sea (Ian Koblick and Jim Miller)