October 15, 2015

Cleaning Water One Stroke at a Time

Caption: Spongesuit bikini created by engineers at UC Riverside and designers
at Eray Carbajo. Illustration credit: Eray Carbajo
Description: Illustration of spongesuit bikini top.

(October 15, 2015)  UC Riverside engineers are part of a team that won an international design competition for creating a swimsuit that cleans water as people swim

A material created by University of California, Riverside engineers is the key component of a swimsuit that won an international design competition for its ability to clean water as a person swims.
The reusable material, which they call Sponge, is derived from heated sucrose, a form of sugar. It has 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,” said Mihri Ozkan, an electrical engineering professor at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering.

Caption: Components of the Spongesuit bikini. Illustration credit: Eray Carbajo
Description: Components of the Spongesuit bikini.

Ozkan, along with her husband and fellow engineering professor, Cengiz Ozkan, current Ph.D. student, Daisy Patino, and Hamed Bay, who recently earned his Ph.D. after working with the Ozkan’s, began developing the material about four years ago for applications such as cleaning up oil or chemical spills or desalinizing water.
They also believe the unique water-repelling nature of the material could be used in paint applied to airplanes and satellites or as part of electromagnetic shields for such things as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The idea to incorporate the material into wearable technology, such as the swimsuit, came from Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray and Gonzalo Carbajo, partners of Eray Carbajo, an architecture and design firm based in New York City and Istanbul.

The team visited the Ozkan’s labs and worked with them to design the swimsuit. Their design won first place at the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology Competition and will be recognized at the Maker Faire in Rome on Oct. 16.

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