Airlock

An airlockair-lock or air lock, is a compartment with doors which can be sealed against pressure which permits the passage of people and objects between environments of differing pressure or atmospheric composition while minimizing the change of pressure in the adjoining spaces and mixing of environments.

Airlocks find application in many fields, especially in:

  • aeronautics: some aircraft are equipped with airlocks as an emergency exit or for sport skydiving;
  • astronautics: space vehicles and space stations use them to allow astronauts to exit their living spaces for extra-vehicular activities
  • submarines: they are used to allow entry and exit of divers while the vehicle is underwater; in addition, the torpedo tubes and escape ducts are themselves air locks;
  • hyperbaric chambers: to enter or exit while keeping the chamber active;
  • both clean rooms and biochemical laboratories and other hazardous environments (such as nuclear reactors) take advantage of pressure differences to avoid contamination with the outside world;
  • electron microscopes: the interior is under vacuum to avoid air interference with electron flow;
  • in pressurized domes, such as the USF Sun Dome and BC Place Stadium, where loss of pressure could cause the structure to collapse.
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