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Science & Technology

Can plants keep you alive in an airtight room?

November 1, 2018 | Comment icon 22 comments



Kurtis inside his plant-filled cube. Image Credit: Twitter / Kurtis Baute
Scientist Kurtis Baute decided to see how long he could last in an airtight cube with only plants to supply oxygen.
The Canadian, whose goal was to raise awareness for climate change, opted to seal himself inside a plastic prison measuring 10ft by 10ft along with 200 plants to see how long he'd be able to survive.

Plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through a process called photosynthesis and by filling the room with them he had hoped to be able to last for at least three days.

Baute started his challenge at midnight on Tuesday and while things started out promisingly enough, he ultimately had to abandon the attempt after just 15 hours due to high carbon dioxide levels.
The main problem, he argued, was that the plants hadn't been getting enough sunlight.

"I could probably survive in the jar three days," he wrote on his website. "But my goal is not to just 'not die', my goal is to end this project without having turned blue, developed brain damage, gotten heat stroke, or just generally caused lasting harm to my body."

It remains to be seen whether or not he will attempt the experiment again.

Source: BBC News | Comments (22)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Setton 3 years ago
Amazing what random facts I remember from Y7 biology. Can't remember what I went in the kitchen for but I remember that plants respire at night!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Dark_Grey 3 years ago
I hear you. That kind of memory is great for crossword puzzles but dont ask me to recite my postal code
Comment icon #15 Posted by avtomat47 3 years ago
Professor/geologist Iain Stewart already did pretty much the same thing. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2038180/TV-scientist-suffers-blinding-headaches-experiment-living-airtight-box-surviving-solely-oxygen-emitted-plants-comes-end.html
Comment icon #16 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 3 years ago
Yeah, it seems a competent scientist could figure it out with a calculator. Kinda fun, though. Also, I wonder how it would have ended if he had been in a room full of marihuana plants.
Comment icon #17 Posted by TonopahRick 3 years ago
Well, he might have died but he would have gone out with a smile.
Comment icon #18 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
My money's on the plants ... If he stays in there till he is plant food, the plants will do much better ~
Comment icon #19 Posted by Nnicolette 3 years ago
I was thinking the same thing... seems pretty obvious to do the preliminary measurement of how much carbon dioxide the plants canconvert and stock the room accordingly instead of just setting some random plants in there and seeing how long until you suffocate.
Comment icon #20 Posted by lost_shaman 3 years ago
For sure. It wouldn't be all that complicated. I say that but there would be many factors. For one thing a 10X10X10 room would hold 1,000 cubic feet of air. A Human at rest breathes 388 cubic feet per day. That thousand cubic feet would have about 0.05% CO2 concentration to begin with. Then human breath has a 5% CO2 concentration. So in one day you would increase the CO2 concentration in a 1,000 cubic foot room to a little over 2% concentration, which would be lethal. Next a human breath exhaled has about 19% Oxygen so you are breathing out 1.95% less oxygen than you are breathing in a day you... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Doug1029 3 years ago
You're getting as windy as I am. Must be these southern plains. Doug
Comment icon #22 Posted by lost_shaman 3 years ago
Haha! I tried to keep it simple! I had tons more info I could have added, but to much information just turns people off so I try and keep it simple.


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