A material created by University of California, Riverside engineers is the key component of the swimsuit that won an international design competition for its ability to cleanwater 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.
Ozkan, along with fellow engineering professor, Cengiz Ozkan, current PhD student, Daisy Patino, and Hamed Bay, began developing the material about four years ago for applications such as cleaning up oil or chemical spills or desalinising water.
The Sponge material can absorb up to 25 times its own weight and it doesn't release the absorbed materials unless it is heated at a temperature exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius. Testing at the Ozkans' UC Riverside labs showed that the Sponge material can be reused up to 20 times without losing its absorbency.



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