In a significant breakthrough, astronauts aboard the International Space Station have attained a 98% water restoration rate that holds immense potential for future missions. According to Space.com, the space agency said they had achieved this water recovery rate using a system that includes astronauts’ pee and sweat recycling into drinkable water.
Notably, each crew member aboard ISS needs around a gallon of water each day for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene uses. The ideal goal in terms of water has been a 98% recovery of the initial water that crews take into space with them at the start of longer missions.
This was made possible using the sub-systems that are part of the Environment Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) aimed at regenerating or recycling consumables such as food, air, and water for further use in space.
ECLSS is a combination of hardware that includes a Water Recovery System that collects wastewater and sends it to the Water Processor Assembly (WPA), which produces drinkable water. One specialized component uses advanced dehumidifiers to capture moisture released into the cabin air from crew breath and sweat.
Meanwhile, another subsystem, the Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), recovers water from urine using vacuum distillation. However, the brine is produced as a by-product of this process, which still contains some unused water. A Brine Processor Assembly (BPA) was then added to the UPA to extract this remaining wastewater.
Christopher Brown, part of the team at Johnson Space Center, said that the BPA increased the amount of clean water extracted from urine from 94% to 98%, the highest so far.
”This is an extremely essential move ahead in the evolution of lifetime assist techniques. Let us say you launch with 100 pounds of h2o. You lose 2 pounds of that, and the other 98% just retains going all-around and all around. Retaining that jogging is a fairly magnificent accomplishment,” Mr Brown explained in a statement.
“The processing is fundamentally similar to some terrestrial water distribution systems, just done in microgravity,” said Jill Williamson, ECLSS water subsystems manager. Mr Williamson added that the drinking water has been “reclaimed, filtered, and cleaned such that it is cleaner than what we drink here on Earth.”