When you’re living and working in a 300-foot by 30-foot space with hundreds of other people at more than 800 feet below sea level, it seems there would be little breathing room—but, at least for the U.S. Navy, the air is clean.
Since 1862, when the Navy’s Alligator submarine became the first to include an air filtration system, air quality and filtration has been a priority. For many years, diesel-powered submarines were the norm, which means the vessel could only stay underwater for a few days before resurfacing to recharge batteries and exchanging stale air for fresh air. Nuclear submarines with complex air filtration systems are typical in today’s fleet and only limited by the amount of food carried on board—typically up to 90 days.
The Navy uses APC Filtration’s high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to clear air of containments after bringing in air while at port. Oxygen-generation equipment is also used, but it’s vital to continuously monitor the submarine’s air quality. Depth ratings are primary design parameters and measures of a submarines ability to operate underwater and filter air inside the cabin. The depths to which submarines can dive are limited by the strengths of their hulls. It is important to realize that there is a limit to how high the pressure can build inside the sub, as problems develop. For example, oxygen becomes toxic at high pressures, thus the pressure cannot be simply allowed to equalize.
Within the past few years, the Navy eliminated a major air contaminant on board: cigarette smoke. The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs anti-tobacco programs are intended to protect health and save millions on health-care costs, according to the New York Times. The amount of secondhand smoke, despite first-rate air filtration, became a health hazard. This is a major health issue on a global scale, and it’s mindboggling to imagine the risks associated with smoking in such a small space.
At APC Filtration, air quality is our top priority, and we take the lungs of the U.S. Navy sailors very seriously. We engineer the best filters in our industry and are constantly seeking improvement, driven by integrity and innovation.
To learn more about the many industries and applications we deal with visit our website or drop us a line today.