Yep, you read that right — this bikini could save the ocean. Literally. We’re not making this up.
Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan are two professors at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering. Together with Ph.D student Daisy Patino and Ph. D graduate Hamed Bay, they have developed a material named Sponge, designed in mind to clean up oil and chemical spills and desalinizing water. This is one sweet bikini that Nature approves of.
And ‘sweet’ is the right word for it, as the key ingredient to creating this wearable solution is sucrose, a plant-based sugar substance. According to a press release, the material is created from heated sucrose and the resulting sponge-like substance becomes “a highly porous structure that is super hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, but also absorbs harmful contaminants.”
“This is a super material that is not harmful to the environment and very cost effective to produce,” says Ozkan.
Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray and Gonzalo Carbajo, partners at the architecture and design firm Eray Carbajo, came up with the brilliant idea of incorporating Sponge into swimwear, turning it into a wearable environmental solution. a 3D-printed rubber net holds the material in place, and is a beautiful marriage of form and function. You gotta admit, that geometric design is so chic.
The Sponge can not only be incorporated into swimcaps and wetsuits, but the material can absorbed up to 25 times its own weight. It may take a bit more than just tossing it into the wash to get it clean, as drawing out the collected impurities and pollutants needs the material subjected to temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius. (It’s safe to say you may want to get out of the room for this one.) However, the clean-conscious people out there can rest easy, as the Sponge has proven effective for up to 20 uses; beyond that, the material will need to be replaced.
The bikini won first place at the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology Competition, and is currently waiting patent approval.
Watch the Sponge in action below: