NASA Testing New Urine Recycling System On Atlantis Shuttle

by Mandy Adwell on 07/10/2011

in Earth,Technology

NASA urine recycling system

Sounds like Portland should have called NASA for advice on their urine-infested drinking water.

NASA has sent the crew of the current shuttle, Atlantis, into space with textbook-sized kits that turn the crew’s urine into drinking water. While a similar system is used by soldiers to filter dirty fluids and turn them into a drinkable substance, this system has yet to be tested out in space.

This is a step toward conserving water and avoiding excess use of it while up in space. Eventually, it’s expected to turn human sweat, saliva and other liquids into drinkable water.

Astronauts already use a urine-recycling system that was implemented several years ago, but it uses up power sources that cannot afford to be wasted on a space shuttle. These kits will require no power.

The system will inject a sugary solution into a bag located inside the outer bag, where the urine will slowly pass through, leaving contaminants and bacteria behind and depositing a clean, drinkable solution into the outer bag.

One of the four astronauts on board Atlantis, which launched last Friday around 11:30 am, will be testing out the bag with a tester solution. They will test it toward the end of the 12-day mission to determine the efficiency and whether or not it is safe and reliable to bring into space.

Some inventions like this eventually make their way into a useful products on Earth. If this bag proves effective, it could be incredibly helpful in countries where there is a low supply of clean water, or during a long hike where survival packs are necessary.

Recycling our own fluids and turning them into adequate hydration could be an excellent way to cut down on water use and still provide important fluids to every human being.

Would you be prepared to drink your own recycled urine back here on Earth?

Via Wired Science

Image credit: NASA

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