NASA has reported that the International Space Station’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) recycles 98% of all water that astronauts bring aboard the station. This is reported by Engadget.
One part of the ECLSS uses “advanced desiccants” to capture moisture the station’s crew breaths and sweat out as they go about their daily tasks. The other one recovers astronauts’ urine using vacuum distillation.
“This is a very important step forward in the evolution of life support systems,” said NASA’s Christopher Brown, who is part of the team that manages the International Space Station’s life support systems. “Let’s say you collect 100 pounds of water on the station. You lose two pounds of that and the other 98 percent just keeps going around and around. Keeping that running is a pretty awesome achievement.”
At the same time, Jill Williamson, NASA’s ECLSS water subsystems manager, reassured that the process of processing urine is similar to some terrestrial water supply systems, only it takes place in microgravity conditions.
“The crew is not drinking urine; they are drinking water that has been reclaimed, filtered, and cleaned such that it is cleaner than what we drink here on Earth,” she stressed.
Jill Williamson said systems like ECLSS will be critical as NASA conducts more missions beyond Earth orbit.
Previously, researchers found that direct photochemical reactions could provide humans with the oxygen and hydrogen needed for long-term habitation on Mars or the Moon. This is stated in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.