Scientists are solving the problem of thirsty astronauts by using recycled urine.NASA has developed a way to convert almost all urine produced on the International Space Station (ISS) into consumable water.
A so-called Urine Processor Assembly (UPA) recovers water from the liquid waste using vacuum distillation.
A process purifies the liquid to ensure it has become clean enough for drinking, with a claim it is purer than standard Earth-based tap water.
The space agency explains: “Ideally, life support systems need to recover close to 98% of the water that crews bring along at the start of a long journey.
“The space station’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) recently demonstrated that it can achieve that significant goal.”One specialized component uses advanced dehumidifiers to capture moisture released into the cabin air from crew breath and sweat.
NASA says the team acknowledges that the idea of drinking recycled urine “might make some people squeamish,” but they stress that the end result is far superior to what municipal water systems produce on the ground.
“Let’s say you collect 100 pounds of water on the station. You lose two pounds of that and the other 98% just keeps going around and around. Keeping that running is a pretty awesome achievement.”
The BPA takes the brine produced by the UPA and runs it through a special membrane technology, then blows warm, dry air over the brine to evaporate the water. That process creates humid air, which, just like crew breath and perspiration, is collected by the station’s water collection systems.
All the collected water is treated by the WPA. It first uses a series of specialized filters, then a catalytic reactor that breaks down any trace contaminants that remain. Sensors check the water purity and unacceptable water is reprocessed.
The system also adds iodine to the acceptable water to prevent microbial growth and stores it, ready for the crew to use.
NASA says the systems in ECLSS have been carefully tested, not only to ensure that they perform as intended but also to demonstrate that each is reliable and can operate long-term without a lot of maintenance or spare parts.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Bilal Zafar Ranjha and Newsdesk Manager