Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning Urine Into Water For Space Station Recycling

Date:
November 14, 2008
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth puts you a long way from the nearest kitchen tap. And at $15,000 a pint, the cost of shipping fresh water aboard the space shuttle is, well, astronomical.

NASA's new Water Recovery System will make it possible to double to six the number of crewmembers who can live aboard the International Space Station. Michigan Tech researchers helped optimize the design, increasing its efficiency by 30 percent.
Credit: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC)

Two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth puts you a long way from the nearest kitchen tap. And at $15,000 a pint, the cost of shipping fresh water aboard the space shuttle is, well, astronomical.

So astronauts on the International Space Station have to recapture every possible drop. That includes water evaporated from showers, shaving, tooth brushing and hand washing, plus perspiration and water vapor that collects within the astronauts' space suits. They even transfer water from the fuel cells that provide electric power to the space shuttle.

Until now, however, NASA has not attempted to tap one major potential source of water: urine. That will soon change with the deployment of the new Water Recovery System. It departs Friday, Nov. 14, from the Kennedy Space Center on the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

The Water Recovery System, made possible in part by researchers at Michigan Technological University, can transform ordinary pee into water so pure it rivals the cleanest on Earth.

David Hand was the lead researcher on the project, which ran from 1993 to 1997 at Tech. It was a memorable time. "We received jars of sweat from NASA," he said. "Then we did experiments on the system, measured it at every step, evaluated it and made recommendations."

Under the new system, urine undergoes an initial distillation process and then joins the rest of the recovered fluids in the water processor. The processor filters out solids such as hair and lint and then sends the wastewater through a series of multifiltration beds, in which contaminants are removed through adsorption and ion exchange.

"What's left over in the water are a few non adsorbing organics and solvents, like nail polish remover, and they go into a reactor that breaks them all down to carbon dioxide, water and a few ions," said Hand, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

After a final check for microbes, the water is again clean and ready to drink.

NASA's Layne Carter, the Water Recovery System lead engineer at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala., credits Hand and the rest of the Tech research team with making the system as good as it is. "Without a doubt, if it hadn't been for their modeling effort, we never would have been able to redesign the multifiltration beds and achieve that level of efficiency," Carter said. "They did a fantastic job."

Using mathematical models, the Tech researchers helped improve the overall design of the multifiltration beds, The redesigned beds have 30 percent more capacity, which means that NASA doesn't have to send about 60 pounds of additional supplies up to the space station annually. "That may seem trivial, but it saves NASA about $600,000 each year," Carter said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "Turning Urine Into Water For Space Station Recycling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111210838.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2008, November 14). Turning Urine Into Water For Space Station Recycling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111210838.htm
Michigan Technological University. "Turning Urine Into Water For Space Station Recycling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111210838.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
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