Toilet to Tap in Space

Jan. 29, 2003

This article was initially published on prior to the Columbia tragedy that occurred on Saturday, February 1. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the seven astronauts whose lives were lost.

The space shuttle Columbia will be involved in many experiments including one that poses to recycle urine into drinking water. The experiment is in hopes of saving money on having to send so much costly?and heavy?fresh water into space and then having to haul the urine back to Earth.

The recycling system will evaporate urine and leave salts and waste behind in a tank, reported Florida Today. This will leave the water pure enough to drink.

Constructed of light, durable materials for space and its compact size give this systems a high price tag. However, NASA has not confirmed the full price of the system.

"This will definitely be useful for long-term space flight," Cindy Hutchens, who is responsible for the Vapor Compression Distillation experiment told Florida Today. "There are also some ground uses, that it could be used in remote areas, where you need a very small system."

The system theoretically could recycle up to 4,400 pounds of wastewater a year.

2006 could be the year the system is sent to the International Space Station.

Source: WKMG, Florida Today

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
All images courtesy of Ecosorb.