Royal Navy Submarine Air Purification – Current and Future 2001-01-2393
The patrol duration of a nuclear submarine dictates a continuous supply of breathable air to support life. Not only does the air purification equipment need to be capable of supplying the required amount of breathable air but volatile materials harmful to the crew must also be removed from the atmosphere. Therefore, within the nuclear submarine, air is continuously passed through air purification machinery where all major contaminants are reduced and the oxygen replenished. It is essential that the air be monitored regularly, that air purification equipment be run continuously and efficiently, and the escape of harmful volatile materials into the submarine atmosphere be prevented.
The equipment must be capable of providing a suitable atmosphere for the duration of a patrol. The reality of the situation has demonstrated that maintaining the balance of a suitable atmosphere is an ongoing problem.
This paper outlines the techniques currently used to control the atmosphere in Royal Navy (RN) submarines and highlights some of the more problematic areas. It also discusses the ongoing medium and long-term programmes of development work.