US 3805778 A
A diving head gear includes a form fit mask assembly, a hood assembly, and a breathing block assembly. Mounting a breathing block assembly on an oral compartment of the mask assembly ensures an effortless inhalation and exhalation of gas and, by its unique configuration, the breathing block assembly blocks and purges any leaked water from the breathing system. Thusly provided, the head gear is ideally adaptable to semiclosed and closed underwater breathing systems to prevent the introduction and transfer of leaked water which would eventually reach the CO2 absorption unit and inhibit its functioning. Because each head gear is individually tailored to seat on the nonfleshy, bony portions of the head and face, and only a slight force is required to seal the mask assembly's interior and no facial pain is suffered. Thus the head gear is ideally suitable for use during saturation diving or military undersea operations where it must be worn for long periods of time.
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United States Patent [191 Garrahan Apr. 23, 1974 A BREATHING BLOCK ASSEMBLY Primary ExaminerRichard A. 'Gaudet Assistant ExaminerG. F. Dunne  lnvemor' g g g zgg gg gg g Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richard S. Sciascia; Ervin F. Johnston; Thomas Glenn Keough  Filed: July 24, 1972 21 Appl. No.: 274,151  ABSTRACT A diving head gear includes a form fit mask assembly, Related Apphcauon Data a hood assembly, and a breathing block assembly. Division of 9 p 21, 1970, Mounting a breathing block assembly on an oral comabandonedpartment of the mask assembly ensures an effortless inhalation and exhalation of gas and, by its unique  U.S. Cl 128/141 A configuration, the breathing block assembly blocks  II}!- C] A62!) 9/02 and purges any leaked water f the breathing Fleld Search 11.4 4.2 1.. 2.-2 L1A tem. Thusly provided, the head gear is ideally adapt- 128/188 137/5 able to semiclosed and closed underwater breathing systems to prevent the introduction and transfer of  References Cmd leaked water which would eventually reach the CO UNITED STATES PA T absorption unit and inhibit its functioning. Because 3,680,556 8/1972 Morgan 1211/1422 ach head gear is individually tailored to seat on the 1,625,419 4/1927 McCaa 128/147 nonfleshy, bony portions of the head and face, and 3,348,539 l0/l967 McDonald l28/l42.2 only a slight force is required to seal the mask assem- OTHER PUBLICATIONS blys interior and no facial pain is suffered. Thus the Lancet vol 1 of 1958 g 415. head gear is deally suitable for use durmg saturatlon diving or mlhtary undersea operations where 1t must be worn for long periods of time.
3 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures 44 47a 1 A! \I I I I v 1y a: 1: I at 1 434 110 J d! z T 4/C a l? f w J k 1 A BREATHING BLOCK ASSEMBLY CROSS-REFERENCE TO A RELATED APPLICATION This application is a division of now abandoned US. Patent application Ser. No. 99,945 filed Sept. 21, 1970.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION With the continuing interest in the development of an undersea technology, the development of reliable, life sustaining systems is of prime importance. When the performance of tasks and conducting observations required a divers being under water for prolonged periods of time, or at great depths where surface-supplied air was not practical, self-contained underwater breathing systems of the semiclosed or closed types were produced. Generally speaking, these systems operate to recirculate a divers exhaled breath through a CO, absorption unit which purges the CO; from the exhaled breath, and, to indirectly feed the CO scrubbed gas back to the diver. An inherent hazard of these systems is that the CO absorbing material becomes nonfunc tional upon getting wet. Unless the exhaled CO is scrubbed from the semi-closed or closed systems, the diver is exposed to CO excess, leading to unconsciousness and suffocation. In'contemporary systems, water and saliva from the divers mouthpiece can and do leak into the CO absorption cannister located to receive exhaled breath. One-way valves provided at opposite sides of the mouthpiece allow the inhalation of gas from a breathing bag and the exhalation of gas to the CO absorption cannister, but do not block liquids from the cannister. In addition, divers using the present closed and semiclosed systems, usually weara conventional face mask having a resilient, opaque, tunnel-like sleeve. These masks become uncomfortable when worn for prolonged periods of time since they are supported, in part, on a fleshy portion of the face reaching between the cheekbones and the frontal portion of the upper jaw. To seal a mask which rests on these fleshy areas, require straps which pull the tunnel-like sleeve into them. Sufficient tensioning effects a force fitting of the mask with resulting discomfort, especially when the mask is worn for long periods of time. Attempts have been made to obviate this attendant discomfort and water leakage by constructing a helmet-like arrangement that, in one instance, encloses the divers head entirely. With closed or semiclosed systems, this approach is inherently defective since dangerous CO buildup is likely. The popular Jack Brown-type face mask, usually employed where a source of surfacesupplied air is available, has been modified for closed and semiclosed circuit adaptations. But, here again, dangerous CO buildup is an ever present possibility and facial discomfort, where the mask seats, is felt. None of the available head gears permits the full realization of the advantages of self-contained underwater breathing apparatuses since they all are either inherently dangerous, highly confining, or manifestly uncomfortable.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A breathing block assembly is carried on the portion of the shell adjacent the mouth and directs lifesupporting gas vertically as it is inhaled and exhaled to trap liquids and to purge them from the system.
A further object is to provide a diving head gear affording protection to a diver while blocking any water transfer to the breathing system.
Anotherobject is to provide a breathing block assembly enclosing a minimal space preventingdangerous CO buildup therein.
Still another object is to provide a diving head gear free of protuberances.
Another object is to provide a breathing block assembly conforming contour lying outside of the facial area ensuring a sealed relationship.
Another object of the invention is to provide a breathing block assembly ensuring comfort when worn for prolonged periods.
Still another object is to provide a breathing block assembly for blocking and purging leaked water making it ideal for semiclosed and closed breathing systems.
Still another object is to provide a breathing block assembly channeling the inhaled and exhaled gas in a vertical flow for settling-out moisture droplets entrained in the gas flow.
Still another object is to provide a breathing block assembly incorporating a slanted chamber in communication with a purge valve to ensure the drainage and expulsion of leaked water.
A further object is to provide a. breathing block assembly ensuring a reduced inhalation and exhalation resistance to breathing.
Still another object is to provide a breathing block assembly having a backup-gas system capability.
Yet another object is to provide a breathing block assembly having a diver communications capability.
These and other objects of the invention will become readily apparent from the following description when taken with the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an isometric depiction of the head gear.
FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the breathing block assembly.
FIG. 3a is a sectional view of the: breathing block assembly generally taken along lines 3-3 in FIG. 1 showing gas flow during the inhale portion of the breathing cycle.
FIG. 3b is a sectional view of the breathing block assembly generally taken along lines 3-3 in FIG. 1 showing gas flow during the exhale portion of the breathing cycle.
FIG. 3c is a sectional view of a modified breathing block assembly generally taken along lines 3-3 in FIG. 1 showing inhaled gas flow.
FIG. 3d is a sectional view of a modified breathing block assembly generally taken along lines 3-3 in FIG.
. 1 showing exhaled gas flow.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows the head gear consisting of three main assemblies, those being a face mask assembly 20, a hood assembly 35, and a breathing block assembly 40. Taking them in order, the face mask assembly is, in its preferred form, a sheet of molded material, for example a material possessing the characteristics of strength, transparency, and ductility, when heated, as the material commercially available under the trademark, Lexan 500.
Breathing block 40 is a significant advance in the art of gas exchange valve mechanisms and, when employed with the face mask assembly, markedly increases diver safety and lessens diver fatigue.
Looking to FIGS. 2, 3a, and 3b, showing a detailed arrangement of the breathing block assembly, an integral housing block 41 is machined, or molded, from a strong, lightweight material such as teflon or aluminum; if the latter is chosen, the housing block and all of its associated subcomponents are coated with a hard black anodized finish for protection from the corrosive effects of a marine environment.
Three longitudinally extending chambers, an inhale chamber 42, a common inhale-exhale center chamber 43, and an exhale chamber 44 are formed within the block and occupy a substantial portion of its interior. An inhale port 45, reaches from the inhale chamber to the outside of the housing block, an exhale port 47 reaches from the exhale chamber to the housing blocks exterior, and an inhale-exhale opening 46 is formed in an inner wall 410 of the housing block to provide passageways for the inhalation and exhalation of gas.
The dimensions and orientation of the inhale-exhale opening coincide with a diagonally slanted, oral compartment aperture on a face mask assembly and, when the breathing block assembly is screwed onto the face mask assembly, via a mounting plate 41b, the aperture and the opening are aligned. To ensure a sealed fitting between the breathing block assembly and the face mask assembly, the outwardly facing configuration of inner wall 41a is complementary to the outer surface of a face mask assembly of the oral compartment. Mounting screws 41b, peripherally disposed about the inhaleexhale opening, are fitted through correspondingly disposed holes reaching through face mask assemblys outer surface to compress layered rubber liner 33, when the screws are tightened, drawing the two assemblies together.
A source of gas and a C absorption unit, not shown for the sake of simplicity in the drawings, are joined to the breathing block assembly by an adapter hose fitting 45a and 47a, respectively. The fittings are provided with appropriate gaskets and, optionally, are of several different sizes to interface with available closed and semiclosed systems.
Looking to FIGS. 3a & 3b, further fashioning of the housing block calls for shaping a plurality of laterally extending passageways 48 in a partitioning wall 49 separating the inhale chamber from the common inhaleexhale chamber. A spider-shaped valve holder 48a is fitted into each of the passageways and provides a support for a releasable mushroom check valve 48b allowing a one-way passage of gas from the inhale chamber to the common inhale-exhale chamber. Similarly disposed, a plurality of laterally extending passageways 50 extends through a partitioning wall 51 separating the common inhale-exhale chamber from the exhale chamber. Again, spider-shaped valve holders 50a are fitted into each passageway and releasably supported mushroom check valves 50b ensure the one-way travel of gas from the common inhale-exhale chamber to the exhale chamber. After the blocks interior has been shaped milled or molded according to the manufacturing technique employed and the valve holders and valves are in place, the exhale chamber is isolated from the surroundings by a top cover plate 52, provided with an appropriately shaped gasket, screwed onto the housing block.
A modofication appears in FIGS. 3c and 3c and substitutes a single valve 48b in a single passageway 48 in partitioning wall 49 and a single valve 50b carried in a single passageway 50' provided in partitioning wall 51.
A bottom cover plate 53 and a suitable gasket separate the lower chamber from the surroundings, but the plate is additionally configured with a mike opening 53a. The mike opening establishes an audio communication path from the housing blocks interior to an intercom microphone 54, protected and sealed from the surroundings by a cup-shaped intercom cover 55. A lead 54a extends from the intercom microphone through a gland packing, disposed in the wall of the cup-shaped intercom cover, to relay signals to remotely located communication equipment. Thus disposed, a speech path, from the diver, through the common inhale-exhale chamber, through check valves 48b, the inhale chamber, and, finally, to the intercom mike, is established. Although the check valves are closed while the diver is speaking, they do not dampen or render unintelligible his words.
The bottom cover plate is further provided with a purge valve opening 53b axially aligned with a purge valve duct 410. The opening and duct reach in from the housings exterior and create a purging conduit from the lowest portion, a sump portion 43a, of the common inhale-exhale chamber.
A conventional spring-biased purge valve unit 56 is selected which consists of a check valve element 56a supported by a valve holder 56b and biased to block the passage of fluid by a biasing spring element 56c. This valve unit is fitted in the purge valve duct and by upwardly displacing the check valve element by a manually actuated plungerlever 56d the selective purging conduit serves as a passageway between the inhaleexhale chamber and the surrounding medium.
Particularly shaping the common inhale-exhale chamber to lie with, approximately, a 10 percent diagonal slant, ensures the drainage and collection any leaked water and saliva to sump portion 43a and minimizes the possibility of the waters reaching the exhale chamber and the following CO absorption unit. As soon as it collects water is evacuated from the breathing block assembly by first pushing in on plunger lever 56d, to raise the check valve 56a from it seat, and then exhaling gas into the common inhale-exhale chamber.
If excessive amounts of leaked water accumulate in the common inhale-exhale chamber and it starts to become filled presenting a danger of passing the water to the CO absorption unit, the hose, joining adapter hose fitting 47a to the CO absorption unit, is pinched closed. Continued forceful exhaling of gas purges leaked water with little risk of spraying it into the exhale chamber and onto the CO absorption unit.
Most leaked water enters semiclosed and closed breathing systems through the interface connecting the systems to a divers mouth, usually a mouthpiece, or a conventional type mask assembly. It naturally follows that leaked water should be blocked, or accumulated and expelled at this interface. Actuating the purge valve unit, in a manner above described, dead-ends leaked water before it gains access to the closed or semiclosed systems. Since CO absorption units directly receive the exhaled breath in most systems, and the absorption material deteriorates as moisture permeates it, the presently configured housing block, having a longitudinally extending, diagonally slanted common inhale-exhale chamber ensuring the collection of leaked fluids, substantially contributes to system reliability and effectiveness.
A further contributing factor to system effectiveness depends from the relative size and disposition of longitudinally extending partitioning walls 49 and 51. The walls, by containing a plurality of laterally extending passageways, greatly increase the areas through which the inhaled gases and exhaled gases flow with respect to the areas of the inhale port and exhale port. Since the volume of gas passing through the breathing block assembly is constant, upon a given demand by a diver, the velocity of transferred gas is significantly reduced as the gas reaches the common inhale-exhale chamber. While this reduced velocity diminishes the inhalation and exhalation resistance and, therefore, tends to lessen diver fatigue, the reduction of the gas flow velocity causes gas entrained droplets of moisture to settle out within the common inhale-exhale chamber. These settled droplets run down the slanted chamber and drain into sump portion 43a(assuming that such droplets find their way into the system upwind of the breathing block). Therefore, by reducing the flow velocity through the breathing block assembly, moisture coming into the breathing block assembly via the inhale port is blocked from progressing to the exhale port and is collected and purged from the system.
Furthermore, on the inhale portion of the breathing cycle, the inhaled gas is directed vertically, upwardly through laterally extending passageways 48 and, combined with the reducedxvelocity, any gas-carried leaked droplets, being heavier than the gas, tend more readily to settle out and drainto the sump portion. Exhaled gas entering the center inhale-exhale chamber, similarly, is vertically directed and saliva and leaked water coming from the interior of the face mask assembly fall from the gas flow into the sump portion, noting the gas flow arrows in FIGS. 3a and 30 showing the inhale portion of the breathing cycle, and FIGS. 3b and 3d showing the exhale portion of the breathing cycle.
An additional modification of the breathing block as sembly greatly increases diver safety by allowing an immediate, automatic drawing of gas from a backup system should the primary breathing system fail. An emergency port 60, laterally aligned with inhale-exhale opening 46, is formed in forward wall 41d of the housing block and the forward facing surface of the forward wall is appropriately shaped to provide a mounting surface 41c for receiving a demand regulator unit 61.
The regulator unit incorporates the known features of a conventional second-stage portion of a widely adopted two-stage demand regulator. Its principal parts are: a regulator body housing 61a, a diaphragm member 61b, a tilt lever element 61c, and a fitting 61d joined to a hose 612 extending to a source of backup gas. If the primary source of gas fails, the diver squeezes shut the hose carried on fitting 45a and inhales. The inhalation pulls in diaphragm member 61b unseating the tilt valve to pass gas to the diver. Optionally, the diaphragm is manually depressed when greatly increased amounts of gas are required or if rapid purg ing of the common inhale exhale chamber is needed.
Reversing the locations of the demand regulator unit and the intercom microphone, from that shown in FIG. 6, further improves the functional nature of the breathing block assembly. Of course, suitable adapters are provided to fit the demand regulator unit on the bottom of the housing block through mike opening and to mount the intercom microphone on the emergency port. With this arrangement, speech intelligibility rises since the mike is in direct communication with the divers mouth and the blind spot blocking lower, forward vision is reduced since the forward protrusion of the cup-shaped intercom cover is less than that presented by the demand regulator unit.
The preferred embodiment of the breathing block assembly is a rectangularly-shaped, curved block designed to closely fit on the face mask assembly with a minimum of protuberances, which .could become entangled in cables or marine plant life. Where no communications capability is required, the microphone is omitted and the mike opening is sealed shut. When a backup gas supply is not practical, the demand regulator unit is dispensed. Without the mike and regulator unit, the essential features of the breathing assembly are retained and its outline is considerably streamlined.
All the gaskets, screws, fittings, valves, etc. are stan dard items and are subject to routine modification to interface with existing breathing systems. Because all the elements are subjected to a harsh, corrosive marine environment, they are selected from materials either impervious to or resistant to its effects. The precise manner of connecting the component elements of the breathing block assembly has not been elaborated on to avoid belaboring the obvious.
By the unique configuration of the face mask assembly, the breathing block assembly, and the hood assembly, diver safety and comfort have risen to a new standard and the limitations imposed by conventional head gear are overcome.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings, and, it is therefore understood that within the scope of the disclosed inventive concept, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
What is claimed is:
1. An assembly for ensuring minimal gas flow resistance and for expelling leaked water in closed, semiclosed, and open circuit underwater breathing systems comprising:
a housing block including,
a gas inlet port connected to a source of gas,
an inhale chamber joined to said inlet port, an upper partition of which downwardly slopes and longitudinally extends across said housing block and is provided with a plurality of inhale openings,
a gas inlet port,
an exhale chamber joined to said outlet port, a lower partition of which downwardly slopes and longitudinally extends across said housing block in a parallel relationship with said upper partition and is provided with a plurality of exhale openings, and
a center chamber reaching across said housing block having said upper partition and said lower partition defining two of its boundaries and a front wall provided with an orifice and a rear wall provided with an inhale-exhale opening defining two other boundaries, said inhale-exhale opening is in fluid communication with a divers mouth, the cross-sectional area of said inhale opening is greater than the cross-sectional area of said inlet port reducing the velocity of vertically directed said inhaled gas causing the settling of droplets of said leaked water in said center chamber for purging therefrom and for further reducing the inhalation resistance, the cross-sectional area of said exhale opening is greater than the crosssectional area of said outlet port maintaining a reduced velocity of said exhaled gas causing the settling out of droplets leaked water in said center chamber for purging therefrom and further reducing the exhalation resistance, and the downwardly sloping said upper partition defines a sump portion into which said leaked water drains;
an inhale valve carried in each of said inhale openings to permit only a vertical, one-way transfer of inhaled gas to said inhale-exhale opening;
an exhale valve carried in each of said exhale open-.
ings to permit only a vertical, one-way transfer of exhaled gas from said inhaleexhale opening;
a purge valve unit connected to said sump portion linking said center chamber and the exterior of said housing block for enabling selective purging of said leaked water from water from said center chamber; and
a demand regulator unit connected to a source of reserve gas secured onto the front of said housing in communication with said center chamber through said orifice to provide reserve gas upon failure of said source of gas.
2. An assembly according to claim 1 in which the bottom of said inhale chamber is provided with an aperture leading to said housing exterior and said assembly further includes:
a communication unit having a cup-shaped shell containing a microphone and a remotely extending communications lead, said cup-shaped shell disposed with its mouth circumscribing said aperture in a sealed relationship to permit telephonic transmissions.
3. An assembly according to claim 2 in which the mounting surfaces surrounding said aperture and said orifice are configured to accommodate said communications unit and said demand regulator unit interchangeably to provide a reduced lateral inertial drag and an improved communications capability when the situation demands.
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