Synthetic gills for soldiers

Noah Shachtman at Defensetech blogs,
The Army recently handed Case Western Reserve University and Waltham, MA’s Infoscitex Corp. a joint contract to start investigating a “Microfabricated Biomimetic Artificial Gill System… based on the subdividing regions of clef, filament, and lamellae found in natural fish gills.” In the first phase of the program, “gas exchange units will be designed and demonstrated for rapid, efficient extract of oxygen from surrounding water.”

“An advanced breathing apparatus that mimics the efficiency, simplicity, and durability of the gill-swim bladder found in fish could greatly improve human maneuverability and sustainability in both aquatic and high altitude settings,” the contract announcement reminds us. Sure could.


Reader comment: Don J Brancaccio says,

Maybe the army should search the net before spending our tax dollars inventing something that already exists. Apparently, it isn't even terribly complicated. "Alan Izhar-Bodner, an Israeli inventor, has developed a way for divers to breathe underwater without cumbersome oxygen tanks. His apparatus makes use of the air that is dissolved in water, just like fish do. The system uses the "Henry Law" which states that the amount of gas that can be dissolved in a liquid is proportional to the pressure on the liquid. Raise the pressure - more gas can be dissolved in the liquid. Decrease the pressure - gas dissolved in the liquid releases the gas. This is exactly what happens when you open a can of soda; carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in the liquid and is under pressure in the can. Open the can, releasing the pressure, and the gas fizzes out."