General Question

kawaii_ninja's avatar

Would it be possible to create an oxygen machine?

Asked by kawaii_ninja (402points) March 31st, 2008

Based on the way plants use up carbon dioxide and give out oxygen (using sunlight too), wouldn’t it be possible to create an oxygen machine or filter of some kind?

Any other ideas?

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7 Answers

klaas4's avatar

It could happen, but first we have to figure out how plants do that. It would be a great solution for astronauts in space…

samkusnetz's avatar

I think actually that this is very easy to do from a technical standpoint. the problem is making it use little enough electricity to make it worth it.

there was an article in the new york times yesterday about exactly this. they’re working on it. so good thinking!

cwilbur's avatar

We know how plants do it, or at least we did when I was 12 and science class that year focused on botany.

The problem is that it takes energy to do it—the reason we take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide when we breathe is that, in our cells, oxygen + sugar becomes carbon dioxide + water + energy. To reverse that, you need to add energy to carbon dioxide and water to produce sugar and oxygen.

Plants are very efficient at doing this, and use sunlight for the energy source. It’s entirely possible to create a machine to do this, but it’s likely to be less efficient than a plant—and if anything is burned to generate the electricity, it’s likely to be a net loss anyway.

klaas4's avatar

I didn’t know that. Sorry!

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Co2 +Algae +sunlight = o2

Algae is then processed for hydrocarbons (oil). Currently in experimental stage. The process is scalable and can be used to recycle co2 from coal or oil fired power plants, back into a petroleum replacement.

crackerjack's avatar

@cwilbur-very good explanation, and also completely true, they are currently working on a way to make this efficient so we can rely less on fossil fuels and help reduce greenhouse gasses. Once they finally figure this out, the greenhouse gasses would be considerably reduced in a short period of time

deepseas72's avatar

I call it “tree”. And we tear them down at voracious speeds, carpeting the world in cement.

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