At the Panama City Naval Center (NSWC), Florida, testing of the new MK29 rebreather has begun, with which divers will be able to dive and work at depths of more than 70 meters. Testing takes place under the TechSolutios program of the Office of Marine Research (ONR Global).
Unlike conventional rebreathers, the MK29 does not use an oxygen-nitrogen mixture for breathing, as it is ineffective at great depths. As an alternative, a mixture of oxygen and helium was chosen, which is used in breathing apparatus by firefighters and climbers. Helium was not chosen by chance. Due to the tiny size of the molecules, this inert gas easily penetrates and leaves tissues without creating the narcotic effect that occurs when breathing pure oxygen.
The MK29 has another interesting feature, which is very important for combat swimmers. In the process of breathing, the bubbles do not go beyond the apparatus, which provides additional secrecy for the underwater special forces.
In addition, scuba gear reduces breathing noise thanks to a 3D printed titanium tubing that connects the hoses to the breathing manifold. The tube further prevents bubbles from escaping and reduces mask fogging.