New perspective on bath sponges

This project is the world’s first comprehensive study to consider the luffa sponge as an alternative material for energy absorption and other applications.

Luffa sponge.

As engineers search for new and advanced materials, sustainability requirements are becoming increasingly important.  CISM researchers set out to investigate novel and practical applications for the naturally occurring luffa sponge. 

CISM researchers obtained and characterised the mechanical properties of the luffa sponge at various loading rates.  They found that the luffa sponge material exhibits stiffness, strength and energy absorption capacities that are comparable to those of some commonly used metallic cellular material in a similar density range.

The researchers also discovered that the luffa sponge possesses smart properties such as shape memory.  This work may lead to new applications, as these sustainable sponges have many unusual properties as a material but have, up until now, been used primarily as a bath sponge.

Key people


Details of our findings on the luffa sponge material have been presented in the following articles. Currently we are studying the smart functions of this natural material.

  • J. Shen, Y.M. Xie, X. Huang, S. Zhou and D. Ruan, ’Mechanical properties of luffa sponge’, Journal of the Mechanical Behaviour of Biomedical Materials, 15, pp 141-152, 2012. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2012.07.004
  • J. Shen, Y.M. Xie, X. Huang, S. Zhou and D. Ruan, ’Behaviour of luffa sponge material under dynamic loading’, International Journal of Impact Engineering, 57, pp 17-26, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.ijimpeng.2013.01.004
  • J. Shen, Y.M. Xie, S. Zhou, X. Huang and D. Ruan, ’Water-responsive rapid recovery of natural cellular material’, Journal of the Mechanical Behaviour of Biomedical Materials, 34, pp 283-293, 2014. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2014.02.022
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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer