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NITROX
NITROX COURSE

COURSES PRICES (EURO) NOTICE
  LOW SEASON HIGH SEASON  
EAN DRIVER 138 148 Lectures + 2 EAN dives + course materials
+ EAN PADI diving certificate



WHY NITROX
+ ADVANTAGES - DISADVANTAGES
  • Longer no deco time
  • You can stay longer underwater
  • You feel less tired after repetitive dives on Nitrox
  • You can have shorter surface intervals between dives
  • Increased safety
  • Depth limitations
    (depending on % of Oxygen)
  • Requires better knowledge of gases
  • More complex dive planning


NITROX refers to any gas mixture composed (excluding trace gases) of nitrogen and oxygen; this includes normal air which is approximately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with around 1% other gases. The most common use of nitrox mixtures containing higher than normal levels of oxygen is in SCUBA diving where the reduced percentage of nitrogen is advantageous in reducing nitrogen take up in the body's tissues and so extending the possible dive time and/or reducing the risk of decompression sickness.

TrimixSpecial Nitrox price in June

During June we offer special new prices for Nitrox refills 3 eur per cylinder.

PURPOSE OF NITROX
Nitrox is mainly used in scuba diving to reduce the proportion of nitrogen in the breathing gas mixture. Reducing the proportion of nitrogen by increasing the proportion of oxygen reduces the risk of decompression sickness, allowing extended dive times without increasing the need for decompression stops. Nitrox is not a safer gas than compressed air in all respects: although its use reduces the risk of decompression sickness, it increases the risk of oxygen toxicity and fire, which are further discussed below.

It is generally untrue that breathing nitrox can reduce the effects of nitrogen narcosis, as oxygen seems to have equally narcotic properties under pressure; thus one should not expect a reduction in narcotic effects due only to the use of nitrox. For a reduction in narcotic effects Trimix gases which also contain helium are generally used.

There is anecdotal evidence that the use of nitrox reduces post-dive fatigue, particularly in older and or obese divers; however the only known double-blind study to test this found no statistically significant reduction in reported fatigue. There has, however, been some suggestion that post dive fatigue is due to sub-clinical decompression sickness (DCS) (i.e. micro bubbles in the blood insufficient to cause symptoms of DCS); the fact that the study mentioned was conducted in a dry chamber with an ideal decompression profile may have been sufficient to reduce sub-clinical DCS and prevent fatigue in both nitrox and air divers.

Further studies with a number of different dive profiles, and also different levels of exertion, would be necessary to fully investigate this issue. For example, there is much better scientific evidence that breathing high-oxygen gases increase exercise tolerance, during aerobic exertion. Though even moderate exertion while breathing from the regulator is a relatively uncommon occurrence in scuba, as divers usually try to minimize it in order to conserve gas, episodes of exertion while regulator-breathing do occasionally occur in sport diving. Examples are surface-swimming a distance to a boat or beach after surfacing, where residual "safety" cylinder gas is often used freely, since the remainder will be wasted anyway when the dive is completed. It is possible that these so-far un-studied situations have contributed to some of the positive reputation of nitrox.

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NAME

Nitrox is known by many names: Enhanced Air Nitrox, Oxygen Enriched Air, Nitrox, EANx or Safe Air. The name "nitrox" has been written in upper and lower case in English; in this article the lower case convention will be used except when specific mixtures are referred to (such as Nitrox32). In its early days of introduction to non-technical divers, nitrox has occasionally also been known by detractors by less complementary terms, such as "devil gas" or "voodoo gas".

Although "nitrox" usually refers to a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen with more than 21% oxygen, it can refer to mixtures that are leaner in oxygen than air. "Enriched Air Nitrox", "Enriched Air" or "EAN" are used to emphasise richer than air mixtures. In "EANx", the "x" indicates the percentage of oxygen in the mix and is dropped when the percentage is known; for example a 32% EANx mix is called EAN32. The two most popular blends are EAN32 and EAN36 (also named Nitrox I and Nitrox II, respectively, or Nitrox32 and Nitrox36).[edit] Richness of mix
The two most common recreational diving nitrox mixes are 32% and 36%, which have maximum operating depths of about 34 metres / 110 feet and 29 metres / 95 feet respectively when limited to a maximum partial pressure of oxygen of 1.4 bar.

Nitrox with more than 40% oxygen is uncommon within recreational diving. There are two main reasons for this: the first is that all pieces of diving equipment that come into contact with mixes containing higher proportions of oxygen, particularly at high pressure, need special cleaning and servicing to reduce the risk of fire. The second reason is that richer mixes extend the time the diver can stay underwater without needing decompression stops far further than the duration of typical diving cylinders. For example, based on the PADI nitrox recommendations, the maximum operating depth for Nitrox45 would be 21 meters / 70 feet and the maximum dive time available at this depth even with Nitrox36 is nearly 1 hour 15 minutes: a diver with a breathing rate of 20 litres per minute using twin 10 litre, 230 bar (about double 85 cu. ft.) cylinders would have completely emptied the cylinders after 1 hour 14 minutes at this depth.

Nitrox, usually containing 50% to 80% oxygen, as well as pure oxygen, is common in technical diving as a decompression gas, which eliminates inert gases, such as nitrogen and helium, from the tissues more quickly than leaner oxygen mixtures eliminate them.

In deep open circuit technical diving, where hypoxic gases are breathed during the bottom portion of the dive, a Nitrox mix with 50% or less oxygen called a "travel mix" is sometimes breathed during the beginning of the descent in order to avoid hypoxia. Normally, however, the most oxygen-lean of the diver's decompression gases would be used for this purpose, since descent time spent reaching a depth where bottom mix is no longer hypoxic is normally small, and the distance between this depth and the MOD of any nitrox decompression gas is likely to be very short, if it occurs at all.

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COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS


You do not suffer from Nitrogen Narcosis (Wrong!!!!)

Some divers say they experience less narcosis using Enriched Air, but others claim that they've noticed no difference between air and Enriched Air narcosis. Since there have been few, if any, formal objective studies, it is wise to plan your dive accounting for narcosis just as you would using normal air. Although Enriched Air reduces the amount of Nitrogen you breathe underwater, many diving physiologists don't believe that Enriched Air significantly reduces narcosis.

You use less air.

If anything, you will use more! While Enriched Air gives you more no decompression time underwater, you'll probably find that, depending on your depth, your dive is limited by how much Enriched Air you have rather than the decompression limits! Well, that is until you get into the Advanced Nitrox program where at least you have 2 tanks full of Nitrox on your back?!

Nitrox is only for deep diving.

Absolutely not! Actually this is probably the biggest misconception about Enriched Air Nitrox! People have a tendency to think Nitrox is dangerous and is meant to be used by highly trained professional divers and especially divers who want to go deep?! Actually recreational no decompression Enriched Air dives have a maximum limit of 40 meters / 120 feet! The full advantages and benefits of Enriched Air are truly only felt when diving between the depths of 21 and 36 meters or 70 to 110 feet , either on a No Decompression dive, or when Tech Diving as a travel gas or decompression gas!

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CYLINDER MARKINGS

Any cylinder containing any blend of gas other than the standard air content is required by the dive community to be clearly marked.

The standard nitrox cylinder is yellow in color and marked with a green band around the shoulder of the tank, with "Nitrox" or "Enriched air" marked in white or yellow letters inside. Tanks of any other color are generally marked with six inch band around the shoulder, with a one inch green band on the top and bottom, with four inches of green in the middle. This green band will also have the desigation of "NITROX" or something similar inside, in yellow or green letters.

Every nitrox cylinder should also have a sticker stating whether or not the cylinder is oxygen clean and suitable for partial pressure blending. Any oxygen clean cylinder may have any mix up to 100% oxygen inside. If by some accident an oxygen clean cylinder is filled at a station which does not supply gas to oxygen-clean standards it is then considered contaminated and must be recleaned before a gas containing more than 40% oxygen may again be added. Cylinders marked as not-oxygen clean may only be filled with enriched oxygen mixtures from membrane or stick blending systems where the gas is mixed before being added to the cylinder.

Finally, all nitrox cylinders should have a tag that, at minimum, states the oxygen content of the cylinder, the date it was blended, the gas blender's name, and the maximum operating depth. Other requirements may be made as to what is marked on the cylinder, but these markings are considered standard and safe by the diving community, and any cylinders lacking these markings should be considered possibly unsafe.

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DANGERS


Oxygen toxicity

Diving and handling nitrox raises a number of potentially fatal dangers due to the high partial pressure of oxygen (ppO2). Nitrox is not a deep-diving gas mixture due to the increased proportion of oxygen in Nitrox: oxygen becomes toxic when breathed at high pressure. For example, the maximum operating depth of nitrox with 36% oxygen, a popular recreational diving mix, is generally around 30 metres/100 feet. The exact value of the maximum allowed ppO2 and maximum operating depth varies depending on factors such as the training agency, the type of dive, the breathing equipment and the level of surface support, with professional divers sometimes being allowed to breath higher ppO2s than those recommended to recreational divers. See the main articles: oxygen toxicity and maximum operating depth.

To dive safely with nitrox, the diver must learn good buoyancy control, a vital part of scuba diving in its own right, and a disciplined approach to preparing, planning and executing a dive to ensure that the ppO2 is known, and the maximum operating depth is not exceeded. Reputable dive operators and gas blenders insist on the diver having recognised nitrox training (which appears as an extra notation on a certification card) before selling nitrox to divers.

Some training agencies teach the use of two depth limits to protect against oxygen toxicity. The shallower depth is called the "maximum operating depth" and is reached when the partial pressure of oxygen in the breathing gas reaches 1.4 bar. The second deeper depth, called the "contingency depth", is reached when the partial pressure reaches 1.6 bar. Diving at or beyond this level exposes the diver to the risk of central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity. This can be extremely dangerous since its onset is often without warning and can lead to drowning, as the regulator is spat out during convulsions which occur in conjunction with sudden unconsciousness (general seizure induced by oxygen toxicity).

Precautionary procedures at the fill station

Many training agencies such as PADI and NAUI train their divers to personally check the oxygen percentage content of each nitrox cylinder before every dive. If the oxygen percentage is 1% or over the value written on the cylinder by the gas blender, the scuba diver must either recalculate his or her bottom times with the new mix, or else abort the dive to remain safe and avoid oxygen toxicity or decompression sickness. Under IANTD and ANDI [2] rules for use of nitrox, which are followed by most dive resorts around the world, filled nitrox cylinders are signed out personally in a gas blender log book, which contains, for each cylinder and fill, the cylinder number, the measured oxygen percent composition, the signature of the receiving diver (who should have personally measured the oxygen percent with an instrument at the fill-shop), and finally a calculation of the maximum operating depth for that fill/cylinder. All of these steps minimize danger but increase complexity of operations (for example, personalized cylinders for each diver must generally be kept track of on dive boats with nitrox, which is not the case with generic compressed air cylinders).

Fire or and toxic cylinder contamination from oxygen reactions

Diving cylinders are usually filled with nitrox by a gas blending technique such as partial pressure blending or premix decanting (in which a nitrox mix is supplied to the filler in pressurized larger cylinders). A few facilities have begun to fill cylinders with air which has been enriched with oxygen by a pre-mixing process, so that it is pressurized as nitrox for the first time in the diving cylinder. The pre-mixing is accomplished either by a membrane system which removes nitrogen from the air during compression or by a 'stick' blending technique where pure oxygen is mixed with air in a baffled chamber attached to the compressor intake.

With the use of pure oxygen during "partial pressure blending" (where pure oxygen is added to the nearly empty dive cylinder to 300-500 p.s.i. (20-35 bar), from a large pure oxygen cylinder before air is added, by compressor) there is an especially increased risk of fire. Partial blending using pure oxygen is often used to provide nitrox for multiple dives on live-aboard dive boats, but it is also used in some smaller diver shops.

However, any gas which contains a significantly larger percentage of oxygen than air is a fire hazard. Furthermore, such gases can also react with hydrocarbons or incorrect lubricants inside a dive cylinder to produce carbon monoxide, even if a recognized fire does not happen. At present, there is some discussion over whether or not mixtures of gas which contain less than 40% oxygen may sometimes be exempt from oxygen clean standards. Some of the controversy comes from a single U.S. regulation intended for commercial divers (not recreational divers) years ago. However, the U.S. Compressed Gas Association (CGA) and two international nitrox teaching agencies (IANTD and ANDI) now support the standard that any gas containing more than 23.5% oxygen should be treated as nitrox (which is to say, no differently from pure oxygen) for purposes of oxygen cleanliness and oxygen compatibility (i.e., oxygen "servicability"). However, the largest training agency - PADI - is still teaching that pre-mixed nitrox (i.e. nitrox which is mixed before being put into the cylinder) below 40% oxygen does not require a specially cleaned cylinder or other equipment. Most nitrox fill stations which supply pre-mixed nitrox will fill non-oxygen clean cylinders with mixtures below 40%. For a history of this controversy see.

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HISTORY

In 1959 the United States Navy (USN) documented enriched oxygen gas procedures for the military use of what we today call nitrox, in the USN Diving Manual.

In 1970, Dr. Morgan Wells, the former Director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Diving Center began instituting diving procedures for oxygen-enriched air. He also developed a process for mixing oxygen and air which he called a continuous blending system. For many years Dr. Wells' invention was the only practical alternative to partial pressure blending. In 1979 NOAA published Wells' procedures for the scientific use of Nitrox in the NOAA Diving Manual.

In 1985 Dick Rutkowski, a former NOAA diving safety officer, formed IAND (International Association of Nitrox Divers) and began teaching nitrox use for recreational diving. This was considered heresy by some, and met with heavy skepticism by the diving community. In 1992 the name was changed to the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD), the T being added when the European Association of Technical Divers (EATD) merged with IAND. In the early 1990s, the agencies teaching nitrox were not the main scuba agencies. New organizations, including Ed Betts' ANDI (American Nitrox Divers International), which invented the term "Safe Air" for marketing purposes, and Bret Gilliam's TDI (Technical Divers International) gave scientific credence to nitrox.

Meanwhile, diving stores were finding a purely economic reason to offer nitrox: not only was an entire new course and certification needed to use it, but instead of cheap or free tank fills with compressed air, dive shops found they could charge premium amounts of money for custom-gas blending of nitrox to their ordinary moderately experienced divers. With the new dive computers which could be programmed to allow for the longer bottom-times and shorter residual nitrogen times which nitrox gave, the incentive for the sport diver to use the gas increased. An intersection of economics and scientific validity had occurred. However, in the meantime during the early 90's, a number of feelings were hurt.

In 1996, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) announced full educational support for nitrox. While other main line scuba organizations had announced their support of nitrox earlier, it was PADI's endorsement that put nitrox over the top as a standard sport diving "option."

These percentages are what the gas blender aims for in partial-pressure blending, but the final actual mix in such cases will be unique, and so a small flow of gas from the cylinder must be measured with a hand held oxygen analyzer, before the diver breathes from the cylinder underwater.

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