Engineers at the University of California Riverside have successfully designed a new wearable technology that allows any user to enjoy a leisurely swim in the ocean while being able to contribute in cleaning the water from harmful toxins.
The material that was used is said to be recyclable, intelligently manufactured and economically sustainable. Otherwise known as "Sponge," the breakthrough super-material is designed with the capacity to repel water while it safely absorbs and stores the toxins within. Engineers have incorporated the material into a swimming bikini which had been 3D printed. By wearing the bikini, users will also be able to help in cleaning the ocean while they go for a plunge at the sea.
"SpongeSuit aims to transform the swimming experience into an eco-friendly activity, by helping clean seas while swimming, one stroke at a time," said the team behind the new technology.
The material is the brainchild of husband and wife team Mihri Ozkan and Cengiz Ozkan, both being engineering professors, along with teammates Hamed Bay and Daisy Patino. Its highly porous and super hydrophobic nature is said to be derived from heated sucrose, which is a form of sugar. Due to its nano-scale structure, it can easily absorb contaminants which weigh over 25 times its own weight. These absorbed contaminants are released only by way of exposing the material to heat with a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. Since the contaminants are trapped in the inner pores of the material, they have no chance of making contact to the wearer's skin. Moreover, the wearer can use the material up to 20 times before turning it over for recycling.
Originally, the team designed the material for serving other purposes such as desalinizing water and cleaning up oil spills. They even speculated that the material will also have relevant use in paint that is applied to satellites and aircraft.
It was the architecture and design firm Eray Carbajo and its partners, Gonzalo Carbajo, Inanc Eray and Pinar Guvenc, who came forth with the idea of using the material as a main component in wearable technology.
"We aim for a future where everyone, with any shape and form of swimming outfit, can contribute to the cleanliness of the seas by a sports activity or simply a leisurely summer vacation," said the official Reshape site.
Being one of the most promising ventures into wearable technology with a touch of eco-conscious ideology, it's not surprising that the Sponge material won first place in the international design competition Reshape 2015.