In 1876, English engineer Henry Fleuss decided to develop a safer oxygen cylinder for submarine work. In earlier experiments, Sieur Freminet, who invented the oxygen cylinder, had died of asphyxiation as a result of the tube not working. With the compressor system designed by Fleuss not to repeat this mistake, oxygen would not be cut off and he would not be left breathless. He also used a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen instead of pure oxygen in his tube. Thus, it would be more resistant to pressure changes.
Fleuss dived in a lake to try his invention. His tube worked successfully, and Fleuss was under water for 30 minutes. However, this experiment was the end of him. Because Fleuss was poisoned by exposure to excess oxygen. Oxygen poisoning is a condition that occurs as a result of inhalation of oxygen under high pressure. Oxygen poisoning can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle twitching, seizures and loss of consciousness. Fleuss also suffered from these symptoms and died before he could rise to the surface of the water.
Fleuss’ invention, although it led to his demise, was considered an important advance in submarine and diving technology. Thanks to other engineers such as Robert Davis and Yves Le Prieur, who developed Fleuss’s design, modern oxygen cylinders appeared. Fleuss’s story has been included in the history of science as both a tragedy and a source of inspiration.