UL student makes waves with underwater breathing system

Cathal Redmond pictured with his winning invention 'Express Dive' at the Olympic-sized pool at the UL Sports arena. His device has won the prestigious Irish leg of the James Dyson Award

A student from the University of Limerick has been making waves with his latest invention — a lightweight, underwater breathing system designed to make life easier for snorkelers and diving enthusiasts.

The product allows the wearer breathe underwater for up to two minutes. Once the air beings to run out, the user simply goes back to the surface and presses a button to refill the one litre tank from the surrounding air.

Cathal Redmond, who is originally from Wexford, has just won the prestigious Irish leg of the James Dyson Award for the design, which he calls ‘Express Dive’.

“I’m delighted to have won. I was on the way to Galway when I got the phone call and I had to get them to tell me again that I’d won because I couldn’t believe it.”

The 26-year-old, who has just graduated from UL with a degree in product design and technology, said the idea initially came to him while on a holiday in Crete.

“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.”

So he began to investigate a possible solution, tying it in with a project he had to complete as part of his course, and searched for a way to combine the freedom of diving with the convenience of a snorkel.

His first model consisted of a bicycle pump, pressurized balloons and drinks bottles, with later versions incorporating an electric car tyre pump powered by a portable drill battery to compress the air.

The final prototype features a compact air tank, an air regulator and compressor combination made from high-density foam, aluminium and silicone.

An inbuilt battery drives the compressor to capture air and store it in the tank. The air is then delivered to the diver in the same way as a scuba system, in conjunction with a dive mask.

Cathal will now receive a cheque for €2,500 and progresses to the international stage of the James Dyson Award where he will go up against 600 others in a bid to win €37,500 to develop his design further.


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