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SCUBA Diving in the 19th Century | Enter in New Era

Fluess’s Early Rebreather (1878)

  • The first really practicable self-contained breathing apparatus was designed in 1878 by Henry Fluess, an English merchant seaman. The equipment consisted of a watertight rubber face mask connected by breathing tubes to a copper tank containing oxygen compressed to 450 pounds per square inch gauge and a breathing bag.
  • The diver inhaled pure oxygen and exhaled into the breathing bag, where their breath was drawn through ropes yarn soaked in a solution of caustic potash to remove the carbon dioxide. Fluess’s diving set was used successfully in work in flooded collieries in 1880 and by Alexander Lambert in his famous exploit in saving the flooded Severn Tunnel in 1882.
history diving skeleton
history diving skeleton


Henry Fluess’s early rebreather was a significant advancement in diving technology. It allowed divers to stay under aquatic for more extended periods and work in deeper waters. The set was used successfully in several rescue operations, including the flooding of a colliery in 1880 and the Severn Tunnel in 1882. Fluess’s invention paved the way for the development of more advanced diving apparatuses used today.  

Fluess’s rebreather significantly improved over previous diving apparatuses, which were often cumbersome and unreliable. The set was relatively easy to use, which made it accessible to a wider range of divers. Fluess’s invention helped to make diving a safer and more efficient activity.

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