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Thread: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

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    Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    I know this subject has been beaten to death, but I can't find exactly what I was looking for in a previous post. I had an interesting converstion at the LDS today. I was there shopping and making small talk when a fellow Dolphin diver came in for some sorb and a few other nic nacs.

    Our area is not exactly a dive mecca, if you know what I mean. Let me preface this by saying that there are only 5 guys (that I'm aware of) in my area that are Dolphin divers. We all took the course from the same shop, as he is the only certified instructor around. My instructor/LDS, myself, and two other guys are personal friends of mine. I finally met #5 today. I'd heard his name, but we have never met.

    I went to the back to grab his sorb, and let the shop owner know that he only had one tub of Dragersorb left. The subject came up of what we were going to do about getting sorb, now that Drager has pulled the plug in the US. MY LDS's stock was all that was left from a pallet order a few years ago.

    I told them that I have been using Spherasorb for the last year with no problems at all, and that I had a good source to get it from. #5 turned alarmingly serious and said " stay away from that medical grade stuff, it nearly killed me." Naturally I was curious.

    He and the LDS both rattled off something about Dragersorb being the only sorb that could be used with the Dolphin. I told them about the many posts on RBW about this very subject, and that I know of many guys who use other sorb than Dragersorb, but they weren't convinced.

    I asked #5 what his bad experience with medical sorb was. He said he went to a max depth of 100 ft or so for about 30 minutes total dive time, and his second dive was about 75 ft max for 15 minutes total time. Roughly 45 minutes total time, well short of the 3 hour scrubber duration. He ascended from his dive, got on the boat and became aware of his surroundings about 2 hours later. He has no memory of boarding the boat, stripping down, or even what happened. The guys that he was with on the boat said he was completely out of it, almost in a drug induced stuper. He assumes he was having, or on the verge of having, a CO2 hit. He said that I was taking a big gamble using anything but Dragersorb. The LDS agreed.

    Of course I countered with the fact that I have made numerous dives with Spherasorb, and gone right to the 3 hour duration several times. No issues whatsoever. I suggested that maybe his scrubber wasn't packed properly, or possibly overexertion being the cause. There could be many reasons other than just blaming the sorb. Dwell time, age of product, setup.....I could go on and on. Even though it was med grade stuff, it may have been totally off the mark for his intended use of it.

    I should point out that #5 isn't just Joediver from bugtussle, he is a very well respected doctor! He works with the med stuff everyday. He can get all the med sorb he can carry out, but says he won't ever touch it again.

    We then got into the discussion about the size and shape of the sorb pellets, the color changing sorb, and the differences in the various sorbs available. In the end they weren't swayed one bit.

    Sorry for the long way around, but here are my questions:

    Has anyone using Spherasorb had anything like this happen?
    Does anyone have any fears of using Spherasorb?

    I've read the "official" letter from Intersurgical about using Spherasorb for diving, but I have always felt it was a CYA tactic by the company. Many guys use the stuff and have no problems.

    As for #5 and his ominous warning, I assume that he must have been using a product that was totally wrong for diving. He likely grabbed something in a pinch that bit him in the ass. At the same time I'd hate to find out the hard way that they're right and I was wrong.

    How 'bout it guys? A little help please? FD

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    RBW Member Dragerneil is an unknown quantity at this point Dragerneil's Avatar
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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    I too am a medic who uses this stuff everyday and has dived with it for deeper dives and longer durations than those listed here. As have many, many others.

    This event does not sound like a CO2 hit too me; more like a cerebral bend or hypoxic episode. Where was the headache, hyperventilation, panic etc? A CO2 hit does not take 2 hours too resolve.

    I am very happy to continue to use spherasorb. As far as I can see the only difference with Dragersorb (other than the price) is that it reputedly contained a little phosphate in the belief that this would partially buffer a caustic cocktail - it would still have been very bad news.

    Neil

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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    I've had limited experience with Spherasorb (2 jugs worth), but it has worked well when I tried it. No problems whatsoever.

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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    What is the moisture content of spherasorb? Reading their website, they seen fairly adamant that they have not tested or recommend the product for rebreather diving, nor intend to test it for that application the foreseeable future.
    The mixture has products included designed towards anesthetic stability use not commonly found in rebreather friendly CO2 absorbents. Do they react well with sodium and all the other gunk not found in anesthesia machines? I have never used spherasorb so I do not know the answer to any of these questions, but I always prefer to use known products which the manufacturer unequivocally states is appropriate for rebreather diving. But I hate being an unpaid guinea pig being told by other unpaid guinea pigs that the stuff works just great...
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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    Saveourseas,

    That's exactly what I'm talking about. The company's "official" position is that they make med sorb, not dive sorb. That being said, a lot of guys myself included, have used it with no problems. I think it is great stuff and have recommended it to others. There is very little dust when filling the scrubber, it is affordable and realitively easy to find. I would never point someone towards a product that I considered even remotely risky!

    I have been using it all summer and have been very satisfied with it. I was just taken aback by my conversation with #5. Here is a doctor warning me about the sorb I dive with every time. Not that the fact he's a doctor makes him the sorb guru. It could very well be as I stated he had another problem and blamed the sorb.

    Still, I want to be as sure as possible about what I'm using. Given the limited time I have used it, about 8 months and 15 dives, I'd like to hear from those who have more experience with the stuff.

    Thanks, and keep it coming! FD;)
    Last edited by firemandiver; 26th July 2008 at 04:17.

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    Supporting Member GaryB is an unknown quantity at this point GaryB's Avatar
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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    I've not dove my recently purchased Dolphin, but have ordered Spherasorb for use with it. Looking to get some local dives with it this summer.

    When I took my PADI rebreather class (gotta start some where) in Hawaii, the ingtructor used Spherasorb exclusively, and highly recommened it over Dragersorb for a number of reasons; less dust, color change, better packing, less channeling, longer lasting, availability, and cost.

    As I accumulate dives on it, and try other sorbs, I'll post back.

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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    [
    Last edited by saveourseas; 26th July 2008 at 03:46.
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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    Exactly right! I would think that the white jacket types who mixed up the absorbent would know with certainty if the products used were appropriate in a diving unit. To get anything approved for use in a medical environment requires a testing regimen which is lengthy, involved and stringent, to say the least. Since their post states quite clearly that they do not approve of spherasorb for diving applications, should we not err on the side of caution while assuming they know what they are talking about? If they knew it was safe, I'm sure they wouldn't mind selling more sorb.
    I know Sofnolime, sodasorb, dragersorb, etc are safe for the ultra high humidity environment in diving because they have been tested for that environment and the moisture content is correct to begin the conversion reaction.
    Perhaps I'm not adventurous enough. I just want you to be as safe a possible underwater and removing a product not tested for our environment seems prudent until informed otherwise.
    One of the products in Spherasorb not found in other diving absorbents is zeolite. "The zeolite is used as a molecular sieve to create purified oxygen from air using its ability to trap impurities, in a process involving the absorption of undesired gases and other atmospheric components, leaving highly purified oxygen and up to 5% argon".
    As argon is a highly narcotic gas, one must wonder if it has any significance in a closed system under higher ambient pressures than are found in anesthesia devices working at 1 atmosphere.
    Last edited by saveourseas; 26th July 2008 at 03:23.
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    Re: Spherasorb vs Dragersorb

    Quote Originally Posted by saveourseas  View Original Post
    One of the products in Spherasorb not found in other diving absorbents is zeolite. "The zeolite is used as a molecular sieve to create purified oxygen from air using its ability to trap impurities, in a process involving the absorption of undesired gases and other atmospheric components, leaving highly purified oxygen and up to 5% argon".
    Not really surpriseing. If you remove all the nitrogen from air you get a 96% O2, 4% Argon mix.

    Quote Originally Posted by saveourseas  View Original Post
    As argon is a highly narcotic gas, one must wonder if it has any significance in a closed system under higher ambient pressures than are found in anesthesia devices working at 1 atmosphere.
    There is no way to convieniantly make argon. Any argon in the loop has to come in from the dil or the O2. Since the Ar is just as unreactive as the N2, He, or Ne in the dil the percentages should'nt change. So hopefully your O2 tank does'nt have any argon in it. If it did Ar could slowly build up in the loop as O2 is added. I suspect that your O2 would have to have 5% Ar or more to make it an issue. I don't dive with O2 cylinders that analyze at 95%.

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