Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have recently created a synthetic crystal with amazing properties of absorbing oxygen. The new “oxygen-sponge” crystal works very much like a solid form of the hemoglobin with 10 liters of the stuff able to suck out all of the oxygen from a room full of air.
But it’s not the oxygen absorbing potential of the new crystal which makes it very useful, it is its ability to also rerelease the oxygen under moderate heat which could have very interesting applications for breathing underwater, and even perhaps in the transportation of aquatic life. While the synthesis of the new oxygen-sponge crystal is still pretty recent, it might be theoretically possible to build an underwater breathing device that scavenges oxygen from water, and rereleases it in a gaseous form for us to breathe underwater, without the need for pressurized air.
Perhaps on a similar note it might be possible to create an insert like a tablet to drop into the bag of aquarium fish about to be shipped which could also provide a steady supply of oxygen to keep the fish alive. Conversely, the same way some people use Soda to scrub CO2 from the air before it is injected into a protein skimmer, in some future aquarium device it might be possible to use the oxygen sponge crystal to suck out all of the O2 from aquarium water to create a truly anaerobic zone for the denitrification of aquarium water.
Of course it goes without saying that the newly synthesized crystal is still in the early stages of laboratory testing, and it will be a long while before we see the material produced in large quantities to enable large scale commercial uses and applications. Meanwhile, we can dream of a future where breathing underwater is easier than ever without having to invoke Science Fiction or breaking the laws of physics. [Motherboard]