How to Breathe Like a Fish

When we get to Mars in about 15 years, we’re going to need this stuff:

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark discovered a cobalt salt crystal with the ability to reversibly absorb oxygen. It works in a fashion similar to the way hemoglobin works in our own blood — absorbing oxygen from the air we breathe and then releasing it to our cells. But this salt has far greater binding power — 10 liters can absorb all of the oxygen in a room!

The potential applications include health care, allowing the storage of oxygen in a lighter, more portable container, and energy applications involving fuel cells. For divers, it could allow much longer underwater times and could conceivably become part of an artificial gill that can harvest oxygen from water.

Of course, humans don’t breathe pure oxygen when they dive, because it becomes toxic under the higher pressures under water. Other gasses would need to be added. And humans have much higher oxygen requirements than marine organisms like fish, so an artificial gill would require a lot of technology and energy. But what if you could meander through a coral reef for hours instead of minutes?

To your health and wealth,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His...

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