Friday 30 September 2016

Limerick student's diving for glory after winning prestigious James Dyson award

Published 03/09/2015 | 02:30

UL student Cathal Redmond
UL student Cathal Redmond

A Limerick student has won the 2015 Irish James Dyson Award for inventing a new lightweight underwater-breathing system.

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University of Limerick student Cathal Redmond (26) won the €2,500 award for making Express Dive, a contraption that allows divers to breathe underwater for up to two minutes.

Once the one-litre tank's air supply begins to run out, the device's user can resurface and hold a button to refill the tank.

Redmond will now go on to compete in the international stage of the competition, where 600 students from 20 countries will vie for the overall prize of €37,500 to develop their design.

Redmond's contraption, which is expected to cost €400 when it is released for sale in 2017, was picked because it reduces the number and size of parts needed to breathe underwater, which is likely to be of great assistance to scuba divers.

Unlike traditional snorkels, Express Dive allows the user to dive to much greater depths as it has its own separate air tank.

It is also set to cost a fraction of the estimated €3,000 that scuba diving equipment costs.

An inbuilt battery drives the compressor to capture air and store it in the air tank.

The air is then delivered to the diver in exactly the same way as a scuba system, in conjunction with a dive mask.

"Express Dive is an ideal stepping stone to compressed air diving," said Redmond. "It would suit divers of all experience levels."

Redmond, who is a scuba diver, says that he got the idea for the invention while he was on holiday in Greece.

"I was on a boat excursion when I saw a shiny object on the seabed," he said. "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."

Four other Irish student inventions have been shortlisted to proceed to the international stage of the James Dyson award.

These are: Sense ultrasonic sensor for firefighters (made by Eilis Delany, Dublin Institute of Technology); Music-ability instrument for those with disabilities (made by James Fogarty, Cork Institute of Technology); Contour tool kit (made by Kevin Hannon, NUI Maynooth); and Rosta farming alert system (made by Lynne Whelan, IT Carlow).

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