The Alpha® Auto Inflator activates when the cartridge comes into contact with water. The cartridge mechanism consists of a clear cap cartridge with water access apertures and a compressed high powered spring which is held by a cellulose salt bobbin. When the cellulose salt bobbin comes into contact with water the cellulose dissolves and it releases the spring which pushes a plunger forward, in turn forcing a cutter into the CO2 cylinder. The cutter allows the CO2 to travel through the one way valve in the inflator head and inflate the lifejacket.
The Automatic system is backed up by a manual override, which allows the user to pull the toggle and activate the cutter to pierce the gas cylinder in order to inflate the lifejacket alternatively.