Scientists Have Just Unlocked The Secret to Breathing Underwater Without Oxygen Tanks

Have you ever wanted to breathe underwater? You may soon have your chance. Agroup of scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have developed a crystallinematerial that absorbs oxygen from the surrounding environment, both water and air, and stores it for future use.

The aptly named “Aquaman Crystal” uses cobalt to work its magic, and it doesn’t need a lot — just a few grains provides enough oxygen for the first breath. As the research team notes, because the material can continually absorb oxygen from the water, a diver would only need to bring a tiny amount underwater in order to breathe without a tank.

“It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability,” said Christine McKenzie, one of the scientists involved with the project. “It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing thewater out of it and repeating the process over and over again.”
The crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when they are saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released again.
Source: The University of Southern Denmark
It has uses beyond diving, too. The scientists note that the material can also be used to help lung patients who breathe with the help of an oxygen tank.

“When the substance is saturated with oxygen, it can be compared to an oxygen tank containing pure oxygen under pressure — the difference is that this material can hold three times as much oxygen,” McKenzie said.

Oxygen tanks are bulky and heavy, and though there are smaller ones for use outside the home, they’re still an inconvenience for those who need them to breathe properly.

The atmospheric oxygen content, temperature and pressure all affect the time required for the material to absorb oxygen; it can take mere seconds or up to a few days to work. But the university emphasizes that its potential uses are myriad — cars that use fuel cells, for example, need a regulated oxygen supply.

Though there’s no set timeline for the material to be converted for commercial use, the possibility is nevertheless exciting. Get ready to make like Aquaman, everyone.

This article originally appeared on and was written by Sophie Kleeman