Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit

The Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit at Simon Fraser University is the only civilian research hyper/hypobaric facility in Canada. It is capable of pressurizing or, “diving,”  to 305 meters (30ATA, 445psi, 1000’) of sea water as well as drawing a vacuum, or “flying” the unit, to 33.5km Above Sea Level (ASL), which is equivalent to the atmospheric pressure on Mars (0.011ATA, 0.159psi, 100,000’ ASL).

The EMPU specializes in researching human performance in extreme environments.  We are capable of meeting specific requirements for hyperbaric, aerospace, and environmental testing of various degrees and equipment. Previous projects include, but are not limited to: pilot high altitude training (hypoxia), monitoring human operational parameters, acclimatization training, testing of survival suits, life-support systems, electronics and fuel cells.


Constructed to PVHO-1 standards, the chamber is a triple-lock, multi-place Class “A” Hypo/Hyperbaric complex that contains an Entry Lock (EL), Main Lock (ML), and Wet Pot (WP). There is an environmental control system for air/water temperature and humidity, as well as carbon dioxide scrubbing capabilities. The ML can accommodate up to seven participants (including one inside tender) and contains four fold up bunks for longer duration or sleep tests/studies.


The EMPU provides hot and cold immersion testing. A single person tub can accommodate one person and a bicycle ergometer; and the six person tub can be either chilled or heated to various specifications for survival, immersion, dry, semi dry and wetsuit testing.


The Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit teamed up with Cicada Studio to produce a state-of-the-art 360° virtual tour of the lab. Look inside the Main Lock and Wet Pot of the Hyperbaric Chamber.

Click on the virtual tour link, compatible with most mobile devices.