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Conformal airlock assembly and method

Image Number 10 for United States Patent #7997537.

A conformal airlock assembly for ingress and egress through a door from a high pressure environment to a low pressure environment. The airlock assembly includes a flexible, gas impermeable membrane that cooperates with a support wall in an airtight manner to form an interior pocket over the door on one side of the wall. A gas displacement system, in flow communication with the interior pocket, is selectively operable to flow air out of the interior pocket, collapsing the membrane toward a collapsed condition. An actuation system coupled to the flexible membrane is operable to displace the flexible membrane, in the collapsed condition, away from the one side of the support wall. Such displacement of the airtight membrane creates a low pressure space in the pocket that is selected to be sufficiently proximate that of the low pressure environment. Hence, the door may be opened to permit ingress and egress therethrough without a large pressure differential.

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