I was worried there for a minute. Sure, the U.S. military was figuring out ways to give its troops sharks electric sensors. But would they remember to outfit the fighters with artificial gills?I should have a little more faith. Of course they would. The Army recently handed Case Western Reserve University and Waltham, MAs 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.But the synthetic gills arent the only useful item the military is funding in this years crop of Small Business Technology Transfer awards. Others include spray-on thermal coatings for "hypersonic projectiles," "hybrid propulsion system for undersea weapons," and, naturally, "Electromagnetic and Laser Launch Systems for Affordable, Rapid Access to Space." (Here's a bit of background.)THERE'S MORE: Over in the comments, Willy Volk tells us that an Israeli inventor "has already developed a new 'tankless' scuba system" that's been patented in Europe and in the U.S. IsraCast has an interview with the fellow.
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