• Liquid breathing technology test in Russia.

Liquid breathing technology test in Russia. (Photo : TASS)

Russia is continuing research into "liquid respirational technology" that will allow humans to breathe underwater and not drown since with their lungs will be filled with a special oxygen-rich liquid.

The Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects is developing the technology to save submariners of the Russian Navy from drowning should they abandon their stricken submarines underwater. The foundation is Russia's equivalent of DARPA or the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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"We are already holding live tests. We began with mice and other small animals. Now, we are carrying out experiments on large animals. Dogs are acting as testers," said Deputy General Director Vitaly Davydov.

Russia's liquid breathing technology or liquid pulmonary ventilation entails filling human lungs with a special liquid rich in oxygen, which also permeates the blood system.

The foundation's scientific and technical council has approved the liquid breathing project. Work on the project is being carried out by the Research Institute of Labor Medicine. The final product will be a special suit that can be used not only by submariners but also by pilots and astronauts.

Currently, dogs can breathe for half an hour underwater at a depth of up to 500 meters without any health consequences, Davydov said. The dogs were placed in a special capsule and immersed in a hydraulic chamber with increased pressure.

He said all of the canine testers "have survived and feel well after 'submergence' and lengthy liquid breathing session."

The method of filling human lungs with liquid rich in oxygen was proposed as a solution several decades ago but no practical application has ever been created, said Davydov.

The main challenge, however, is to find a formula for a liquid that allows underwater breathing. It also involves developing the technology to inject the liquid into and withdraw it from the body.

"A psychological barrier will also have to be overcome, a person would actually have to suffocate in water voluntarily to start breathing with the liquid filling his lungs," according to Davydov.