Scuba Diving Without Tanks? New ‘Artificial Gills’ Concept Design Raising Questions

 Triton 'Artificial Gills': Re-breather device image via Triton FacebookTriton 'Artificial Gills': Re-breather device image via Triton Facebook


Scientists are disputing claims of an as yet untested device a company known as Triton is referring to as artificial gills. While the concept is really cool, this Indiegogo concept device will be facing an uphill battle without definitive proof that it works. So, what are these artificial gills supposed to do? According to the developers, they purportedly allow swimmers the ability to stay submerged underwater for up to 45 minutes at a time in a cross between scuba diving and free diving, the sport where practiced divers swim to impressive depths without the aid of a breathing apparatus.

Artificial Gills

With scuba diving you have tanks and other equipment to assist with the all-important bodily function of breathing under water. Free diving you learn to hold your breath for prolonged periods of time conditioning your body and lungs to do what many consider the unthinkable. But the Triton artificial gill is a device that resembles a traditional oxygen respirator without being hooked up to a tank or tanks. That’s because the company claims the mouthpiece alone is capable of pulling oxygen from water in order to breathe, much like a gill.


The Triton Re-Breather for Diving: Artificial gills image via Triton FacebookThe Triton Re-Breather for Diving: Artificial gills image via Triton Facebook


So, who’s behind the concept design? Triton is actually comprised of a couple of developers by the names of Jeabyun Yeon from South Korea and Saeed Khademi from Sweden. They call their product the world’s first artificial gill re-breather and they allegedly hope to make it available to a contributor by December of 2016. But so far scientists across the globe have been weighing in on the likelihood of the design to perform as promised, and the consensus to date has not been positive. As a matter of fact, it’s been downright unanimous so far as to the product's inability to work at all.

Scientific Community

The ongoing debate concerning the legitimacy of the concept design has been raging since 2014 when Triton revealed their intention to develop and eventually market it. One of the more recent trashings of the Triton artificial gill concept comes at the hands of Neal Pollock, a research associate at Duke University's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology. Pollock’s concerns centered around three sticking points. The first is it would need to efficiently remove enough oxygen from the water. Secondly, the device needs to have enough power to then compress and store said oxygen. And the third concern is that it would need to be capable of providing the exact doses of oxygen the average breath would require. That means meting it out in precise amounts.


The Triton Re-Breather for Diving: Artificial gills image via Triton FacebookThe Triton Re-Breather for Diving: Artificial gills image via Triton Facebook


Diving Masks & Respirators

For its part, Triton supposedly claims to have a trick up its sleeve in order to explain away these concerns. The group was already received over $800,000 in support on their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. To date, a lot of interesting concept designs have appeared on sites like this and Kickstarter where budding inventors can try and raise funds for their dream inventions. Many of them have come to fruition and paid off, but at this point Triton’s isn’t one of them. That doesn’t mean anything, though. The project is still young enough that anything could happen. At present Yeon and Khademi are certainly playing it close to the vest as to their ace in the hole.

Mounting Scientific Evidence

Scientists are still not convinced that anything the pair can say or do at present will be enough to change the laws of how drawing oxygen from water can possibly work well enough to support a human being for any length of time underwater with a device of this size. Interestingly enough, it’s precisely the design’s size that makes it so revolutionary and attractive. Their doubts don’t mean they don’t think we’ll ever have the capability and/or technology down to this size in the future. It just seems as if their impression at this time is that it cannot be supported right now. What do you think?