Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

William E. Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John R. Clarke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roland D. Shytle, Ph.D.


Oxygen Consumption, Diving, Rebreather, Propagation of Error, Injection Rate, Nitrox, Semiclosed


The Marine Corps Systems Command documented mission requirements that cannot be met by current rebreathers. They need to extend dive times without compromising the stealth and compact design of existing devices. This can be accomplished by reducing the fresh gas flow rate. The current flow rate is adequate to support a diver in heavy work. However, the diver will be utilizing a Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) during a large portion of the mission in question. The assumption, then, is that this portion of the mission will not require "hard work". Thus, a new fresh gas flow rate can be established which is sufficient to sustain a Marine diver using a DPD but is conservative enough to extend the duration of the dive.

This experiment was designed for manned testing of the rebreathers in such a way to establish the average oxygen consumption rate for divers using a DPD. Marine divers were fitted with a Divex Shadow Excursion (DSE) rebreather modified with a Draeger C8A PO2 monitor coupled with a Delta P VR3 dive computer. The DSE is a semiclosed-circuit underwater breathing apparatus that provides a constant flow of mixed gas containing oxygen and nitrogen or helium to the diver. The partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) and diver depth were monitored and recorded at ten-second intervals. The Navy Experimental Diving Unit has developed and tested a computational algorithm that uses the PO2 and depth to compute the oxygen consumption rate.

Two techniques were employed to estimate the error in this approach: curve fitting and propagation of error. These methods are detailed and the results are presented. They show that the fresh gas flow rate can be safely reduced while the diver is utilizing the DPD, which consequently, will substantially increase the dive time allowed by the device.