NASA is turning pee into drinking water & it’s a bigger deal than you think

Joel Loynds
NASA ISS Space Station but the water from earth is now yellow, because pee

NASA is now able to recover 98% of the water from pee, and it could be a game-changer for long-term missions, announced in a new groundbreaking announcement.

A new announcement from NASA has revealed that the teams behind its water recycling science have hit a major milestone. The new technology will allow for pee and other “wastewater” to be processed. It’ll then be turned into drinking water.

The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) appears to have hit its goals of recovering “close to 98% of the water” given to them at the start of the mission. This allows them to ensure survival during a disaster and can be used during elongated missions.

The ECLSS is made up of multiple parts, including the Water Processor Assembly (WPA), which utilizes dehumidifiers to “capture moisture” that the crew will naturally release into the air from simply breathing or sweating.

A key part of this is the Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), which actually implements a vacuum distillation process. This is done by sucking out and separating the pee into both recovered water and a “urine brine”. The brine can also be further processed by another piece of tech to extract even more water.

NASA managed to hit 98% water recovery, including pee

This huge breakthrough is vital to future missions, offering the crew a further lifeline and independence while floating in the abyss of space. Speaking in the announcement blog, Christopher Brown, a member of the Johnson Space Center which manages the ISS Space Station’s life support, seemed enthused by the results:

“Let’s say you collect 100 pounds of water on the station. You lose two pounds of that and the other 98% just keeps going around and around. Keeping that running is a pretty awesome achievement.”

Meanwhile, Jill Williamson, the manager of the ECLSS water subsystems detailed above, shows off just how far the recycling system has come:

“Before the BPA, our total water recovery was between 93 and 94% overall.

“We have now demonstrated that we can reach total water recovery of 98%, thanks to the brine processor.”

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