This sounds like something from a far-fetched storyline of an upcoming superhero movie, but some crystals have the power to give humans underwater breathing capabilities. No, they weren’t bestowed upon mankind by an alien race or unearthed from the watery grave of Poseidon, they are the product of Denmark scientists.
Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have uncovered crystalline materials capable of pulling and storing oxygen out of both air and the water in large quantities. Scientists have found how to control the release of the crystalline material’s oxygen depending on the amount required, thus giving divers the possibility of staying underwater for long periods of time without an oxygen tank. This is great news for anybody that instantly swallows a gallon of water anytime they try using a snorkel.
Professor Christine McKenzie led the study that involved using the material to soak up oxygen, first from a bucket of grain. McKenzie added that the crystalline materials can hold more oxygen than a normal oxygen tank.
“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. When the substance is saturated with oxygen, it can be compared to an oxygen tank containing pure oxygen under pressure – the difference is that this material can hold three times as much Oxygen.”
So just how does this super oxygen-storing crystal work? Well, here’s a layman’s breakdown of the science-y stuff. “The crystalline material was processed by using x-ray diffraction, displaying the atomic behavior of the material while it’s full of oxygen – it was then emptied of it.” The cobalt in the material allows for the process of absorbing and as McKenzie pointed out, the crystals can absorb and release oxygen many times over like a sponge. In addition to it being used for diving, McKenzie also sees the discovery as possibly having a life changing affect on lung patients who now must lug around heavy oxygen tanks.
No word yet on when your local dive shop will be switching out their oxygen tanks for super crystals, but it looks like we may just be a little closer to getting Aquaman’s powers.