Water Recycling on the ISS
Did you know that the average person on Earth uses up to 350 litres of water a day? That’s over 1 400 cups of water. Water consumption is critical on Earth, but even more so here on the International Space Station where we have a closed environmenent. From washing ourselves to making our coffee, or even when we sweat, the water that gets expelled is collected in a purification system. And we reclaim about 93% of all the water onboard. Definite soapy water here in space. Mix it up. I let some on the outside apparently. Water used to be delivered in water-filled bags like this one. We brought them up on space shuttles, and of course all of the visiting resupply vehicles. But since 2010 we got a system onboard that can purifiy the water real-time. You don’t have to take it out of the stored bags. We have filters and a keg size distiller that spins to create artificial gravity and move the waste water along. And with it we can recycle about 6 000 litres of extra water for the Station each year. We even recycle our urine. Kids voices: Beurk! But before you cringe at the thought of drinking your left-over wash water and your left-over urine, keep in mind that the water that we end up with is purer than most of the water that you drink on a daily basis at home. That makes the Inernational Space Station its own self-contained environment. That’s a critical step towards living for long periods off of planet Earth.