The University of Denmark and the University of Sydney have completed the development of an oxygen absorbing crystal that would allow humans to breath underwater without an oxygen tank.
The amazing development is good news for scuba divers, swimmers and even non-swimmers – but think of the possibilities for space and space travel, hospital patients, people with asthma and other issues that need to be connected to troublesome oxygen tanks – the potential is simply endless.
Basically anyone who wants to go underwater and breathe like a fish, can stay submerged for long extended periods of time.
The crystals have the capability of pulling oxygen from both air and water – the crystalline material can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.
The kicker is that the oxygen can be released when and where it is needed.
The study, by Professor Christine McKenzie and Jonas Sundberg, showed that approximately 10 liters of microscopic crystal grains, could be enough to completely suck the oxygen out of a room.
“An important aspect of this new material is that it does not react irreversibly with oxygen – even though it absorbs oxygen in a so-called selective chemisorptive process. The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen – we can use it to bind, store and transport oxygen – like a solid artificial hemoglobin. It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability. It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again,” she added.
The new material uses the element cobalt, bound in an organic molecule.
“Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it is not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material,” she explained.
The material has been dubbed the Aquaman crystal, after the DC Comic book character who can breathe underwater.
“This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it “filters” and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water.
A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains,” McKenzie said.
When the crystalline-made material, obtained by using x-ray diffraction, is saturated with oxygen, it behaves like an oxygen tank containing three times more oxygen than regular tanks.