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Thread: Air In Submarines for Willys' benefit

  1. #1 Air In Submarines for Willys' benefit 
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Maintaining the Air Quality
    The air we breathe is made up of significant quantities of four gases:

    Nitrogen (78 percent)
    Oxygen (21 percent)
    Argon (0.94 percent)
    Carbon dioxide (0.04 percent)
    When we breathe in air, our bodies consume its oxygen and convert it to carbon dioxide. Exhaled air contains about 4.5 percent carbon dioxide. Our bodies do not do anything with nitrogen or argon. A submarine is a sealed container that contains people and a limited supply of air. There are three things that must happen in order to keep air in a submarine breathable:

    Oxygen has to be replenished as it is consumed. If the percentage of oxygen in the air falls too low, a person suffocates.
    Carbon dioxide must be removed from the air. As the concentration of carbon dioxide rises, it becomes a toxin.
    The moisture that we exhale in our breath must be removed.
    Oxygen is supplied either from pressurized tanks, an oxygen generator (which can form oxygen from the electrolysis of water) or some sort of "oxygen canister" that releases oxygen by a very hot chemical reaction. (You may remember these canisters because of their problems on the MIR space station -- see this page for details). Oxygen is either released continuously by a computerized system that senses the percentage of oxygen in the air, or it is released in batches periodically through the day.

    Carbon dioxide can be removed from the air chemically using soda lime (sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide) in devices called scrubbers. The carbon dioxide is trapped in the soda lime by a chemical reaction and removed from the air. Other similar reactions can accomplish the same goal.

    The moisture can be removed by a dehumidifier or by chemicals. This prevents it from condensing on the walls and equipment inside the ship.

    In addition, other gases such as carbon monoxide or hydrogen, which are generated by equipment , can be removed by burners. Finally, filters are used to remove particulates, dirt and dust from the air.

    And that's how it Works!

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