It looks like NASA is really eager to recycle and have gone to extremes to achieve this in ways that you might not imagine. The astronauts who live at the International Space station will now get drinking water from their toilets. However, the efforts that NASA has put into this are indeed praiseworthy.
NASA has spent several years on designing a system that can convert urine into pure, clean water, suitable for drinking, cooking and washing. As per the officials, the produced water from NASA’s system is going to be cleaner than the tap water in the U.S.
The urine conversions system is worth $250 million. It will be in the fall of this year that the system will be transported to the space station. The researchers are hopeful it will become operable in the next six months.
Similar systems have been developed in the past, but they never made it into the space because they were concerned about limited space and tight fits. This time that will not be the case because the crews are aware of the hardships and so will have no objections.
A former astronaut said that going to a space station is an exploratory phase and difficult things have to be tolerated.
Even now, some of the drinking water for the crews comes from untraditional sources: sweat and laundry water. A machine converts them into drinking water.
So why does NASA want to produce water in space? Why can it not be taken with the astronauts? This is because water has a great weight and carrying it into orbit is not easy. As of now, there are just three residents at the Space Station but when this number grows in the next couple of years, it just will not be possible to transport enough water for their needs.
The urine conversion system first distills the water and then purifies it through six steps. One of these also adds iodine so that microbes can be killed. The designed system will also use humidity from the astronaut’s breath and sweat, and clean it.
Right here on earth, many systems are now recycling wastewater. The idea may sound a bit gross, but the produced water has the same taste and color, and is not harmful for your health.