A swim suit—a bikini—that filters toxins out of sea water as you swim can sound either ecologically wonderful or personally, well, yucky. It has to be said, though, that the prototype is quite attractive. The cleaning part of the suit, Sponge, is made of heated sucrose combined with a 3-D printed elastomer frame.
Engineers at The University of California Riverside created Sponge, a super material that can repel water, while absorbing toxins (yes; in your suit). It was originally created to clean up oil spills. Partners at Eray Carbajo, an Istanbul- and New York-based design firm came up with the idea of making it wearable. The resulting SpongeSuit—a bikini—won first place at the Reshape 15 design competition.
The designers and engineers say that the toxins your SpongeSuit absorbs go into an inner layer and never touch your body. After 20 ecologically helpful swims, the Sponge material can be removed for recycling and replaced by another attractively shaped filter. The material can absorb 20 times its weight, which is a potential issue for the larger swimmers among us. Even a one-pound suit is going to be a little more substantial by the time it’s ready to be replaced. The old Sponge is, potentially, recyclable; the material must be heated to 1,000° C (11,832° F) to release the absorbed pollutants. Then there’s what to do with them when they’re released.
A recent article said Sponge can also be used to make men’s bathing trunks and wetsuits.