Imagine that, a bikini is being used as a tool to address pollution in our oceans. A group of engineering professors at the University of California have come up with the Sponge Suit Bikini which repels water, absorbs oils, and is designed to help filter out impurities from the water. The bikini consists of a porous material that’s created from a network of nanocarbons which originate from sugar.
The material has a surface area of approximately 64 square inches per gram and is able to absorb up to 25 times its own weight, dependent on the density of the substance attracted to the material. The Sponge Suit Bikini was awarded first place for its abilities to absorb pollution at Reshape15, a wearable technology competition.
The bikini features a net-like exterior shell which is made from 3D printed plastic that flexes to fit the body and a filler that’s made from sponge material. As the bikini wearer swims along, the sponge portion of the design is meant to collect and retain impurities from the water. To get rid of all the impurities the bikini has absorbed, the Sponge Suit Bikini needs to be heated to temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Celsius. Once at the right heat level, it an be filtered of contaminants and reshaped for reuse.
I don’t wear bikinis but I can imagine this particular piece wouldn’t be all that comfortable. Not only that but are you willing to wear something that has collected so much pollutants from the ocean? Regardless, it won the competition and the idea is fantastic. The materials can be used in other ways to clean our oceans. For more details, check out the Sponge Suit website.