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Extreme Environment Engineering Departement
Hyperbaric Experimental Centre

HISTORY
BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
ENGINEERING
SIMULATION FACILITIES

When Henri G. DELAUZE founded COMEX in 1961, commercial diving was restricted to civil engineering operations at depths not exceeding 5 to 30 metres.

Divers have used compressed air since the 19th century but air limits their depth of intervention to 30 metres, exceptionally to 50-60 metres, due to the narcotic potency of nitrogen and the density of the breathed gas that become serious physiological constraints.

Between 1965 and 1975, the industry had to invent it all and develop commercial diving: decompression tables, bounce dives and saturation dives, support vessel with dynamic positioning, etc.

As early as 1964, COMEX started the construction of its first Hyperbaric Experimental Centre or C.E.H. (Centre Expérimental Hyperbare).


A team of COMEX people, directed by the founders Henri G. DELAUZE and Dr. Xavier FRUCTUS, was set up with doctors, engineers, scientific investigators along with deep divers and technicians.

During 30 years, this COMEX team has brilliantly conducted more than 5300 operations including nearly 2700 human experimental dives, either scientifically or equipment oriented.

The series of scientific dives, the goal of which was to progressively reach deeper depths, has permitted to study the physiology of saturation diving with helium from 45 to 610 metres and with hydrogen from 70 to 701 metres.

HYDRA 8 : Pipe line connection by divers at a depth of 534 m in high sea.
HYDRA 10 : Still unbeaten world record at a depth of 701 m.

More than 400 different divers participated to these dives, some of which lasting several weeks. The longest, in 1989, lasted 74 days and was commissioned by the ESA (European Space Agency) and the CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) for the first study of remote-medicine and confinement conditions of the HERMES / COLUMBUS European space programme.

A 35-day Himalayan expedition, Everest – Comex 1997 mission, was simulated in hypobaric conditions inside the infrastructure of the «hydrosphere» chambers. A scientific study on increasing the physical performance of sports competitors using pressurized oxygen took place in 2000 and 2001.


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