UL student takes the plunge with underwater breathing system

Eugene Phelan

Reporter:

Eugene Phelan

University of Limerick student  Cathal Redmond with  the 2015 Irish James Dyson award. He won it for the Express Dive system which allows divers to breathe underwater for up to two minutes
A 26-year-old student at UL has won a prestigious national award for inventing a new lightweight underwater-breathing system ideal for those taking up scuba diving.

A 26-year-old student at UL has won a prestigious national award for inventing a new lightweight underwater-breathing system ideal for those taking up scuba diving.

Cathal Redmond, Express Dive System allows divers to breathe underwater for up to two minutes. Once the air supply begins to run out, the user simply resurfaces and holds a button to refill the one-litre tank.

Redmond will receive a cheque from the James Dyson Foundation for €2,500 and proceed to the international stage of the competition, competing against students from 20 countries for the overall prize of €37.500 to develop his design.

The design overcomes the complexities of a scuba set-up by reducing the number and size of parts needed to breathe underwater, vastly reducing the weight and size of the breathing apparatus.

Unlike traditional snorkels, Express Dive allows the user to dive to much greater depths as it has its own separate air tank. Meanwhile a full scuba kit can cost in the region of €3,000, as opposed to an estimated €400 for Redmond’s device.

It was whilst on a holiday in Greece that Redmond, a keen scuba diver, concluded that there was a big gap between snorkelling masks and heavy scuba diving equipment.

“I was on a boat excursion when I saw a shiny object on the seabed. I wanted to be able to go a little further than I could with just my lungs, but of course I did not have scuba equipment with me.”

“I saw a need for something lighter, inexpensive and portable that everyone could use for leisure diving. Scuba equipment is bulky and expensive and the preparation process is rigorous and time-consuming.

When your air runs out you are done until your next fill.”

He began to investigate a solution that provided the freedom of scuba with the portability of a snorkel.