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Etude sur la plongée sous-marine avec mélange oxygène-azote

Study on scuba diving

Study on scuba diving with a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen

The Air Liquide Foundation is supporting a scuba diving research project conducted by ProMedNav and IRBA/ERSO. The aim is to prove that it is possible to safely conduct oxygen-nitrogen saturation diving to a depth of 50 meters.

Gas mixtures used in saturation diving

An increase in diving time saturates divers' organic tissue with the mixture of gases they are breathing. That's the difference between professional, long dives and short dives for leisure activities. Since the end of the 1960s and the development of dives at depths of over 50 meters, the most commonly used mixture of gases for saturation diving has been a mixture of oxygen and helium. Helium is used to prevent the risk of nitrogen narcosis – the so-called "raptures of the deep" – and because its low density facilitates breathing. However, correctly used, mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen are an interesting alternative for dives at less than 50 meters.

© Promednav Irba Erso
© Promednav Irba Erso

Diving up to 50m with mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen

The aim of this research project is to prove that oxygen - nitrogen saturation diving is safe at depths of less than 50 m. Numerous dives will be carried out during the project's two phases:

  1. Feasibility study: Defining the safety rules and establishing the decompression procedures to carry out these dives in optimum safety conditions.
  2. Medical studies:
  • Physiological studies: Understanding the respiratory and cardiovascular consequences of increasing respiratory pressure during these dives through medical tests (spirometry, electrocardiograms, etc.).
  • Psychological and mental studies: Evaluating the effects of an increase in respiratory pressure on cognitive function.

The contribution of the Air Liquide Foundation

The Air Liquide Foundation will contribute to the acquisition of the equipment required to carry out these dives, as well as helping to analyze the data from the studies conducted. The Foundation's grant amounted to €38,000.

Project initiators: "Association pour la Promotion des Etudes Scientifiques et Médicales sur le Facteur Humain en Environnement Naval et Maritime" (ProMedNav) in partnership with the Resident Operational Subaquatic Research Team of the Army Institute of Biomedical Research (IRBA/ERSO). 
Location: Toulon, France 

Created in 1997, ProMedNav brings together doctors, research directors and scientists from the Resident Operational Subaquatic Research team, which is part of the Army Institute of Biomedical Research – under the authority of the Armies' Health Service.

Created in 2011, the Resident Operational Subaquatic Research team of the Army Institute of Biomedical Research –– brings together doctors and researchers that meet the needs of the Armed Forces in the field of diving and subaquatic activities.


  • Year of support: 2015
  • R&D Manager: Marc LEMAIRE – Air Liquide Healthcare International, Paris-Saclay Research Center