Today is the arrival of the Continuous Flow Nitrox Blending Panel, which we’ve all been working hard to get here for the past 6 months. We always had a partial pressure system (filling whip) but that’s not ideal for nitrox filling as a business.
Continuous Flow means the nitrox goes into the compressor already mixed up to 40%. This removes the pesky need for oxygen clean cylinders and double clean air. All our nitrox cylinders have been visually inspected so we’re good to go.
With help from Steve Burton and David Ottoway of Samui EasyTek who designed the basic unit and customized it for our needs we were able to install a care free and robust unit by the end of the day.
The unit features several safety aspects including an override on the Oxygen regulator so the unit can only produce up o 40% max. It also features an electric solenoid wired into the compressor dynamo. Why is this important? It’s important in places with unreliable electricity because the solenoid will close without power stopping the flow of oxygen. Our compressors are electric so if the power is off so are the compressors and while that’s off, oxygen can flow into the air intake. Without the solenoid, when the compressor turns on, oxygen can be the first breath into the compressor causing an explosion. So now if the power is off then the oxygen stops.
Many friends and acquaintances said we could of simply made the unit out of soda cans and tubing. Which is true, but for presentation, training, ease of use and value then buying this unit is essential.
We’re not quite ready to blend yet, the oil in the compressor needs to be changed from mineral to synthetic and the installation of a playstation at the blending station to keep lowly blenders entertained during blending will be a priority.
At the moment the panel will be used to provide nitrox to Big Blue alone. We will be considering expanding to other smaller local dive shops who require local access to nitrox but that depends on the success of the unit initially.
And of course it also means all staff have to get trained on it. Quite a lot considering it’s a 3 day course.. phew…