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September 2005 Vol. 20, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Titanium and Nitrox Don’t Mix

from the September, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

More and more regulators are made of lightweight, corrosion-resistant titanium. These work well with compressed air, but with enriched air (Nitrox), flammability is a danger.

Mike Ward, president of Dive Lab in Panama City Beach, Florida, which conducts performance and engineering studies on diver-worn lifesupport equipment, told Undercurrent that "a rust or dirt particle bouncing off a titanium surface at high speed under pressure can cause a spark," which, in an oxygen-rich environment, could ignite a fire in the system.

Mares and Atomic Aquatics have addressed this problem by using oxygen-compatible lubricants and components that are "sleeved" with less flammable alloys. Most of these models are ready to use with Nitrox to sport diving limits of 40 percent oxygen up to 3500 PSI. Tech diving models, such as the Atomic M1, can handle up to 50 percent oxygen with no special cleaning and up to 80 percent when maintained clean and dedicated to highly enriched Nitrox. Some chrome-plated brass models can be dedicated for use with 100 percent oxygen on decompression stage bottles.

Check your owner's manual to be sure your titanium regulator is Nitrox ready before slapping it on a Nitrox tank.

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