Bye Bye Oxygen Tanks: Aquaman Crystal To Help Humans Breathe Underwater


This is a great piece of news for scuba divers, swimmers, as well as non-swimmers – basically anyone who wants to go underwater, stay submerged and breathe as a fish. Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Sydney, recently developed an oxygen absorbing crystal, Aquaman Crystal, or “[{(bpbp)Co2II(NO3)}2(NH2bdc)](NO3)2 * 2H2O” capable of pulling oxygen out of both air and water. The crystalline material can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations. The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

The study, by Professor Christine McKenzie and Jonas Sundberg, showed that approximately 10 liters of microscopic crystal grains, could be enough to completely suck the oxygen out of a room.

“This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it “filters” and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water. A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains,” McKenzie said.

When the crystalline-made material, obtained by using x-ray diffraction, is saturated with oxygen, it behaves like an oxygen tank containing three times more oxygen than regular tanks.

“An important aspect of this new material is that it does not react irreversibly with oxygen – even though it absorbs oxygen in a so-called selective chemisorptive process. The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen – we can use it to bind, store and transport oxygen – like a solid artificial haemoglobin. It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability. It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again,” she added.

The new material uses the element cobalt, bound in an organic molecule. “Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it is not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material,” she explained.

The material has been dubbed the Aquaman crystal, after the DC comic book character who can breathe underwater.

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  1. I want to believe. But even if this is actually true, there’s the problem that oxygen by itself becomes intoxicating if you dive deeper than 3 meters below the surface, which is why scuba divers commonly use regular compressed air.

    • This is true to some degree. Ya divers don’t use pure Oxygen for deep dives but they definitely don’t rely on compressed air either. There are standardized gas blends such as Nitrox and Heliox that are used depending on the depth and temperature of the water.

      • Bends comes from the phenomenon of air molecules compressing at pressure. As they compress, they enter into the muscles, etc., of the body. This is where decompression comes in — as you rise back to the surface, the air molecules begin to expand again so divers stop at stages to allow them to work their way back into the bloodstream. Otherwise, the molecules will expand in the muscles and tear them apart. The effects can range from feeling like crap to death.

    • Divers regularly use pure oxygen to help with decompression: it refreshes you after a long deep dive, but we’re very careful not to breathe it below 15 feet although it’s quite safe to that depth. If you breathe it down below 30 feet, it becomes quite toxic and absolutely can kill you. Regular compressed air is pretty safe to about 200 feet, although you will certainly experience nitrogen narcosis, which isn’t toxic but intoxicating — quite fun actually and there are those who seek out the experience. At 300 feet, though, the oxygen in the compressed air (about 20%), again, becomes very dangerous. Just guidelines, because people react differently. Sport divers generally are limited to 60 feet, but cave divers regularly operate at twice that depth and considerably deeper — beyond 200 feet, though, is mixed gas country.

      • And Oxygen is toxic at certain depths, with pure O2 being poisonous at a mere 30 feet – far more shallow than any depth where you have to worry about the bends.

        Before suggesting someone do research, maybe you should read up on the subject yourself. Just sayin’.

  2. To the one who made the article. Thank you for sharing, But the public will need more proof of this. By this I mean, any video or other articles on this matter? Studies that show, without a doubt, this is safe for human use?

  3. This is a big problem for aquatic life in closed bodies of water. Oxygen levels determine the kind of life the water can support

    • That is a good point, the exhalations of the divers would overload the lake with CO2 as all the oxygen got used. It would have to be closely monitored. Although fish actually do this so that makes me think oxygen gets replenished in other ways.

  4. Although this kind of technology is cool sounding and exciting to think about, just like with anything new especially of this kind of magnitude I would personally have to see test results and a demo, I’m sure there are bugs and alot of fine tuning they would have to do to make it fully effective in a non controlled environment, however, its still something to look forward to none the less.

  5. Is this the pink sand RCN navy clearance divers use in their rebreathers?
    it scrubs the co2 from your breath so you can reuse your own air… they’ve been using this for almost 30 years now.

  6. I would like assume that as journalists you have learned proper grammar. You don’t “swim as a fish”. You either “swim like a fish” or “As a fish does”.

  7. Either way we look at this the public will never benefit from it. Major corporations, and government agencies will snatch this technology up immediately.

  8. What id like to know is if this is true about the aqua crystals. Is how would one take the grains of crystal so that we would bs able to stay under water longer. Ie what would one do oe apply the crystals to maintain been submerged for periods of time under water.

  9. This has the potential to increase dive times, but it would still require a setup not terribly different from a rebreather (the only diving setup that actually uses a pure oxygen tank). In the end, ‘aquaman crystal’ using divers will still have to wear some amount of bulky technology involving the crystals, an air scrubber, hoses, and regulators.

  10. So much half-knowledge on one place, on explanation is better than the other. Now i understand the question mark instad of a head in the anonymous logo …!? (PS I know the spelling from Jacques Mayol)

  11. Neither the guys who developed nor the writer of the article seem to have any clue about scuba diving or breathing under water..
    Sports divers use compressed air (not oxygen for good sakes) or enriched air to dive. Oxygen is pure toxic at a certain depth..

    Sports divers have basically two limitations under water:
    The volume of compressed air in left their tank, and the nitrogen concentration in the organism..

    Which one of those can be addressed by some fancy crystals? Correct. None. Rubbish.

  12. It is the writer that has aimed this to divers whereas the researchers quote states that it “may one day be used for divers”. They are focusing on land based applications first. Unless I missed something?

  13. When these crystals are made and are sitting in storage, whats to stop them from sucking the oxygen out of where they are?


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