Ocean pollution is on the rise and Floridians feel the effects as much as anyone. Scientists have been hard at work to lessen or someday eliminate the pollution in our oceans. One bathing suit could help fix that.
Pesticides, herbicides, sewage runoff, and oil spills are killing sea life and threatening our future. Scientists know that land based sources are the main causes of water pollution, but a group of engineers at the University of California have decided to try something different.
Instead of tackling the pollution at its source, they have decided to address the contaminants already in our oceans.
The solution is a new invention known as the SpongeSuit, a bathing suit made up of a lightweight 3-D printed frame that holds a heated sucrose material known as Sponge.
The suit’s Sponge will collect contaminants but repel water. Mihri Ozkan and her colleagues have been developing the material for some years now.
The Sponge material was originally created to be a part of boats, surfboards, and large architectural structures that are often in the ocean.
However, when Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray, and Gonzalo Carbajo discovered the 2015 Reshape Wearable Technology Competition they decided to start small and incorporate the Sponge into swimwear.
Their SpongeSuit won the competition and the inventors have now filed for patents for their creation.
The issue some people have with the suit is wondering whether it is dangerous to wear a bathing suit that absorbs harmful chemicals.
The creators claim that the contaminants will not touch one’s skin. The point of the suit is not to use people as clean-up tools for an oil spill; the SpongeSuit can be worn to a normal day at the beach.
The absorbed materials will not be released from the Sponge unless it is heated at over 1,000 degrees Celsius.
The material is cheap, recyclable, and can hold up to 25 times its own weight. The team hopes for a world where users will be able to have the contaminants removed and the pads returned.
While one bathing suit may not make a big difference, the team hopes that if enough of them are in use, they can bring about real change.
In fact, bathing suits were not the team’s original plan; they hope to clean the oceans by putting the Sponge wherever possible. There are still many questions to address and obstacles to hurdle with the SpongeSuit, but the plan is being developed further.
Currently, the Sponge has only been incorporated into a bikini but there are