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August 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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There’s Something Fishy About This Dive Gear

from the August, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

One can find some remarkable claims on the web, so when we discovered this item issued as a press release, we decided to dig a little deeper. If true, it would revolutionize diving.

The Triton Oxygen Respirator claims that it's possible to breathe underwater as if you were a fish. Or so says its inventor, who has created a prototype of a regulator-like device that would make youtr tank obsolete. "To use scuba equipment, we must learn very complicated procedures, says Jeabyun Yeon, a student at the Samsung Art and Design Institute in Seoul, South Korea. "I've come up with a future product that can solve these difficulties." Or so he says.

The Triton prototype is comprised of a mouthpiece and two appendages that act jointly as the "gills" of the wearer. The user engages the gills simply by biting on the mouthpiece, activating a flow of compressed oxygen extracted from the water as it passes through a filter too fine for water to pass through but will allow smaller molecules, like oxygen, to do so. The filtered oxygen is compressed into a small micro-compressor powered by a micro battery, and stored in a tank. "The micro battery is a next-generation technology with a size 30 times smaller than current battery that can quickly charge 1,000 times faster," Yeon claims on his website, sans citation ( www.behance.net/gallery/13434535/TRITON ).

Then there's the issue of science. The blog DeepSeaNews poured gasoline on the Triton, pointing out that to supply one human breath with 35 milligrams of oxygen would mean filtering about 5.92 liters of water, with 100 percent efficiency. So to supply you with enough oxygen for one minute, or normal resting breathing, the Triton would need to pump through 24 gallons of water a minute, without any apparent pump to create that flow of water. Not to mention the fact that there's such a thing as oxygen poisoning, as explained here by How Stuff Works ( http://science.howstuffworks.com/question493.htm ).

And to put another nail in the coffin of the Triton -- breathers like this were not only in one but two James Bond films: Thunderball and Die Another Day. So movie makers got there first with this fictional concept -- which the Triton will probably continue to be.

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