The pollution of the ocean has been a matter of global concern since quite some time now. Oil spills and waste from different industries end up making their way into the oceans, resulting in algal bloom and increase in marine animal mortality.
To help combat the problem, University of California (UC) Riverside electrical engineering professor Mihri Ozkan has designed a special 3D-printed swimsuit that absorbs contaminants as its wearer swims across the ocean.
Ozkan used a re-usable material called Sponge to create the swimsuit. The team used heated sucrose to manufacture the porous structure that repels water and absorbs harmful contaminants.
Ozkan and his team initially used the material to clean up oil and chemical spills and desalinate water. The Sponge was later crafted into a shape of a bikini, encapsulated in a net-like cage made up of 3D-printed flexible plastic that takes the shape of the body.
"The filler amount and the allocation were identified by creating several design alternatives, considering the form and the ergonomics of the human body, while pushing the limits in translucent swimwear design," explained Ozkan in a statement.
The Sponge can absorb contaminants weighing 25 times its own weight. Since the contaminants get trapped in the pores of the Sponge, it does not come in contact with the body of the wearer of the swimsuit.
Producing sponge is highly cost-effective. It costs just 15 cents to produce one gram of the material. The researchers say that the material can be molded into different outfits, including swimming caps and bathing suits.