By Lola Gayle, Editor-at-large

Our world’s oceans are beautiful. Of that there is no doubt. But they’re also becoming increasingly polluted thanks to oil spills and industrial, agricultural, and residential waste.

What can be done about this ever-growing problem? Suit up and dive in!

101915-bikini sponge 2
Credit: Eray Carbajo

The Sponge Suit is a collaboration between University of California, Riverside (UCR) engineers and Eray Carbajo, an architecture and design firm based in New York City and Istanbul.

The Sponge material was created by UCR’s Mihri Ozkan, Cengiz Ozkan, Daisy Patino, and Hamed Bay. The reusable material 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, reports UCR’s Sean Nealon.

101915-bikini sponge 3
Credit: Eray Carbajo

“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.

The unique water-repelling nature of the material could also be used in paint applied to airplanes and satellites or as part of electromagnetic shields for such things as unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to Nealon, the idea to incorporate the material into wearable technology, such as the swimsuit, came from Eray Carbajo’s Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray and Gonzalo Carbajo. The resulting design won first place at the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology Competition.

101915-bikini sponge 4
Credit: Eray Carbajo

The bikini is made of the Sponge material which is encapsulated in a net-like cage made of 3D-printed elastomer that forms to the body. The team says the material could also be incorporated into things like bathing suits, swimming caps, and wet suits.

The Sponge material can absorb up to 25 times its own weight and then be heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius in order to release the absorbed materials, which are trapped in the inner pores of the Sponge material. After being used up to 20 times, the Sponge can then be replaced and recycled.

Originally posted on