Scientists Have Found A Crystal That Can Let You Breathe Underwater

Senior Contributor
10.02.14 14 Comments

It’s a great scientific irony that water is full of oxygen yet none of it is breathable to humans. But that might be about to change, thanks to a research team in Denmark and a bizarre crystal they’ve discovered.

Carrying the catchy label of [{(bpbp)Co2II(NO3)}2(NH2bdc)](NO3)2 * 2H2O, and what we’re going to call the Aquaman Crystal because we can, researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have discovered the Aquaman Crystal has an amazing oxygen absorption capacity, able to contain 160 times more of it than the air we breathe. A spoonful of this stuff could leach all the oxygen out of a room. But what’s fascinating is how the Aquaman Crystal reacts once it absorbs that oxygen.

Namely, it releases all that oxygen when exposed to heat or low-oxygen environments. And it doesn’t appear that this damages or alters the crystal; it can suck in the air, hold it, and then release it whenever it’s needed. This is kind of strange considering most things that absorb lots of oxygen tend to suffer damage, either because they corrode or because, well, they blow up. It also appears to work on the surrounding environment regardless of the actual medium, so it can take the oxygen right out of the water and pump it into your mouth, instead.

Of course, this stuff does have a few drawbacks; if the insanely complicated chemical formula wasn’t a hint, it’s kind of hard to make this stuff in quantity, and it will need to be scaled up to make sure, again, that it isn’t just a bomb. There’s also a question of absorption rates; depending on the chemical composition, the crystal make take seconds or hours to absorb oxygen.

But the impact on everything from medicine to space travel can’t be overstated. If we no longer need to stuff oxygen into pressurized tanks, which are dangerous to everybody, not just sharks, and can fit more air into a smaller space in a safer way, that would mean exploring the bottom of the ocean would be somewhat simpler, and getting off this rock for good would be easier as well. Right now, this crystal is just an odd cobalt salt with some strange properties, but in the long run, the Aquaman crystal could change human history.

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