06 June 2005

Mechanical Gills for Human Divers

(via Slashdot).

New invention for underwater breathing. Instead of compressed tanks of oxygen (with other gases mixed in as appropriate) or electrolyzing oxygen out of seawater (a la nuclear submarines)this mechanism uses the same concept as the gills of fish. It extracts (using Henry's law) the dissolved oxygen found in seawater, just as all fish do. There is enough dissolved oxygen in seawater to keep the largest fish and sea invertebrates alive...now this is being applied to humans.

Editorially: The main drawback seems to be a very common one -- battery life. What humanity really needs are better, vastly longer-lived batteries. This will allow countless applications (like the one above) to become truly feasible.