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 April 23, 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 April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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