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Thread: Carbon dioxide buildup occurs as you hold your breath, but what if. . .

  1. #1

    Carbon dioxide buildup occurs as you hold your breath, but what if. . .

    If I (or anyone) holds their breath too long, carbon dioxide buildup will occur and, eventually, hypoxia will result from a lack of oxygen. Boo.

    But, assume there was an artificial alveoli of sorts that consumed carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen. That could allow someone to hold their breath for longer periods of time, but would it let people stop breathing altogether?

    I'm thinking not, but would love to be told I'm wrong. My most-likely flawed reasoning is that carbon dioxide wouldn't perpetually increase in the absence of breathing. (We would be perpetual motion machines if it did. )

    A theoretical application would be for quads who need mechanical ventilation. Instead of using a ventilator or diaphragm pacer, you could just insert these artificial alveoli and say "be free!"

    It wouldn't free us of things like suctioning, but it would be cool.

    Steven
    Last edited by Steven Edwards; 07-15-2010 at 11:41 AM.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  2. #2
    Do artificial devices that consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen even exist?


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Le Type Fran├žais View Post
    Do artificial devices that consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen even exist?
    Certain bacteria may.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  4. #4
    For a variety of reasons, this would not work. Converting CO2 to O2 in nature generally follows this formula 6 CO2 + 6 H2O ----> C6H12O6 + 6 O2. Which is photosynthesis and requires a whole lot of energy. Basically whatever artificial device is in your chest would have to consume a lot of water as well, and would produce carbohydrates as well as oxygen. And if it followed this formula that we see in nature, whatever device you had in your chest would produce basically as much sugar (carbohydrates) as you consume in a day.

    So in my opinion, the copious amounts of waste and energy required would make your idea not feasible.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    So in my opinion, the copious amounts of waste and energy required would make your idea not feasible.
    Possibly. There's no telling what science will come up with in the future.

    Let's assume that all that's taken care of. My main concern is if carbon dioxide would continue to be produced, which I'm thinking is a no. If I'm wrong, which I frequently am, then it would be an interesting idea.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Edwards View Post
    Possibly. There's no telling what science will come up with in the future.

    Let's assume that all that's taken care of. My main concern is if carbon dioxide would continue to be produced, which I'm thinking is a no. If I'm wrong, which I frequently am, then it would be an interesting idea.
    CO2 is expelled and O2 is absorbed at the alveoli. It is not the act of inhaling and exhaling that produces CO2, CO2 is produced at a cellular level, and every one of your cells produces it.

    If you had a science fiction device that converted CO2 to O2, you are still left with carbon, so carbon would build up in your lungs. Now the trick is to make the device capture the carbon in diamond form, thus providing a source of income for the user as well.

    But the bottom line is your body only stops producing CO2 when you are dead. Breathing has nothing to do with it (well unless not breathing causes you to die, then you will stop producing carbon dioxide).

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    CO2 is expelled and O2 is absorbed at the alveoli. It is not the act of inhaling and exhaling that produces CO2, CO2 is produced at a cellular level, and every one of your cells produces it.
    Understood. I'm just so attached to the inhale-exhale style of living that I overlooked the fact that as long as your circulatory system is intact, you'd be able to live if your lungs can convert CO2 to O2.

    Thanks.

    If you had a science fiction device that converted CO2 to O2, you are still left with carbon, so carbon would build up in your lungs. Now the trick is to make the device capture the carbon in diamond form, thus providing a source of income for the user as well.
    That could help, but my science fiction device would use the carbon as its energy source.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

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