University of California researchers have created a re usable material, called Sponge, 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. “The material is not harmful to the environment and very cost effective to produce,” said Mihri Ozkan, an electrica engineering professor.
Ozkan and his team began developing the material about four years ago for cleaning up oi or chemical spills or desalinising water. They 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 Sponge material is moulded into the shape of a bikini and encapsulated in a net-like cage made of 3D-printed elastomer that forms to the body. The 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.