US researchers have built on the air-cleaning clothing concept by developing a bikini top which purifies water.
The brainchild of scientists working at the Riverside-based University of California (UC Riverside) – principally Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan - the technology originated as a competition entry. This contest – the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology Competition – it went on to win.
The ocean-cleaning bikini top features 3D-printed plastic netting, designed to mould itself to the person wearing it. This netting contains a heated sucrose-based absorption material, simply called ‘Sponge’.
This material is water-repellent but an exceptionally good contaminants-absorber, so when exposed to impure water, it can take in its polluting content en masse. This, the material’s porous elements store, so at no point should bikini-wearers be directly exposed. Instead, the contaminated content is set free during a controlled heating process, during which the Sponge reaches a minimum temperature of 1,000 degrees Centigrade. The process can be repeated a maximum of twenty times before initial absorbency rates start to drop.
Ocean Clean-Up Top
Despite its hi-tech elements, the ocean clean-up top weighs only 54 grams, is two millimetres thick and has a surface area of 250 square centimetres.
‘The Sponge itself is highly cost-efficient with the main precursor being sugar’, CNET quotes the Ozkans as having written. ‘Per gram cost of Sponge is roughly 15 cents, a reducible cost when achieving economies of scale. This design can be developed into different outfits: bathing suits, mayokini, swimming caps. Reprogrammability, recyclability and affordability are intriguing properties of the technology, allowing room for further research and development in clean-tech wearable[s].
‘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.’
Beyond ocean-cleaning, Sponge’s creators think it could have many other applications, such as aircraft and/or satellite paint.
Image copyright Zandura577 – courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Used solely for representational purposes