Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Advances Water Recycling For Space Travel And Earth Use

Date:
November 16, 2004
Source:
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Summary:
Water is one of the most crucial provisions astronauts need to live and work in space, whether orbiting Earth, working at a lunar base or traveling to Mars. The Water Processor Assembly developed by the Marshall Center will improve water recycling on the International Space Station.

At NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Calif., a water recycler enabling reuse for three years without resupply is being developed on a timeline to fit into exploration plans, according to ARC scientist Michael Flynn. A preliminary engineering development unit can hourly recycle 13.2 pounds, about one gallon, of waste into drinkable water.
Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA's Ames Research Center

Would Columbus have reached the New World if his ships could not carry enough water for their crews? Would Lewis and Clark have made it to the Pacific if they had no fresh water along the way?

The answer is probably no, because water is just as precious to explorers as it is to everyone on Earth. Water is one of the most crucial provisions astronauts need to live and work in space, whether orbiting Earth, working at a lunar base or traveling to Mars. That's why NASA is following several different but complementary avenues at four agency centers to develop dependable ways of recycling water.

"Developing innovative life support technologies will reduce risks associated with human space exploration," said Eugene Trinh, director of the Human System Research and Technology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "We are working to improve technology used onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and have several research projects under way for future missions to the moon and Mars."

ISS crewmembers must save as much water as possible. Each is allocated about two liters daily. They stretch the ration by collecting, cleaning and reusing wastewater, condensate in the air and urine. A new technology to improve recycling on the ISS is being developed by engineers at Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Inc., Windsor Locks, Conn., and researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala. The Water Processor Assembly (WPA) will be the first major hardware delivery of the Regenerative Environmental Control Life Support System. The WPA and the Urine Processor Assembly make up the Water Recovery System (WRS), which feeds the Oxygen Generation System. These combined systems will support up to a seven-member crew.

"The Water Processing Assembly can daily produce 35 gallons of potable recycled water," said Bob Bagdigian, MSFC Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System Project Manager. After the new systems are installed, annual delivered water to the ISS should decrease by approximately 15,960 pounds, about 1,600 gallons. The WPA is scheduled for delivery in 2008.

Water purity is also important. Chemical and microbial contaminants make it unappetizing or unhealthy, and it can clog complicated fluid systems. The Aerobic Rotational Membrane System (ARMS) research project at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., may help. "We're trying to move toward a biological treatment method using bacteria to help cleanse the water," said Tony Rector, Dynamac Corporation bioprocess engineer at KSC. The KSC prototype shop fabricated a model of the system. It is being tested inside KSC's Space Life Sciences Laboratory, and Rector and colleagues designed it.

At NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Calif., a water recycler enabling reuse for three years without resupply is being developed on a timeline to fit into exploration plans, according to ARC scientist Michael Flynn. A preliminary engineering development unit can hourly recycle 13.2 pounds, about one gallon, of waste into drinkable water.

"If we were going to Mars tomorrow, this is the water treatment system astronauts might well use," Flynn said. He is developing it in cooperation with Water Reuse Technology, Inc., Garden Valley, Calif. "This unit can enable a six- person crew to shower, wash clothes and dishes, drink water and flush toilets over three years without resupply," Flynn said.

Engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, are developing technology to help astronauts live in space. They are studying biological water processors to minimize their size in space habitats. JSC microbiologist Leticia Vega describes her work as making biological water processors modular, so they can be easily removed and cleaned. Researchers are also identifying soaps that rapidly degrade at high concentrations. Cleansers, like shampoo and soap, affect the size of systems, because of the time it takes for them to break down. Researchers are studying ways of optimizing size of ion exchange beds used for the final purification of water.

Water recycling technologies developed by NASA will undergo combined water recovery systems testing at JSC to meet exploration timelines. Many of these recycling technologies may have Earth-based uses. NASA is working with the Expeditionary Unit Water Purification Program of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and Bureau of Reclamation to explore ways to use recycling in remote locations.

For information about the Environmental Control and Life Support System, visit:

http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/background/facts/eclss.pdf

For ARMS images, visit:

http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/index.cfm

Water recycler images:

http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2004/vpcar/vpcar.html

JSC water recovery systems:

http://advlifesupport.jsc.nasa.gov/water/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Advances Water Recycling For Space Travel And Earth Use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041114233648.htm>.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (2004, November 16). NASA Advances Water Recycling For Space Travel And Earth Use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041114233648.htm
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA Advances Water Recycling For Space Travel And Earth Use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041114233648.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins