Aqua-Hamster, the Oxygen-Drawing Membrane and the Long Quest to Make Air from Water

by Owen James Burke


The decades-long quest to discover the most effective way to pull oxygen from water has been ripe with imagination. In 1964, scientists synthesized a thousandth-inch-thick membrane which they hoped might be able to pull oxygen from the water for submarines.

In testing, they placed the membrane around a hamster and its home, which lay within an aquarium. It worked, but synthetic membranes are far too costly to manufacture on an industrial scale, so the concept was abandoned.


(Image: Yanko Design)

Early this year, snorkel manufacturer Triton put out a press release about a mask they’d developed which was supposed to be able to pull oxygen from the water by breathing suction. Very imaginative, you might credit them, and it would have passed for an April Fool’s joke (had they waited until April) but is entirely improbable.


More recently, though, Danish scientists produced this red cobalt crystal (above), which is said to absorb all of the oxygen from a good-sized room with just a tablespoon of salt crystals. Could it bring about the end of heavy scuba tanks?

Read more in Science News — OB

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