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Water Recycling on the ISS

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.

100 comments on “Water Recycling on the ISS

  1. ok, what happens if a war erupts on earth with Russia and america…will you guys hate each other up there?

  2. What is this feeling i have, i would really like to be in space, but at the same time i hate you for being in space?

  3. You are Bear Grylls too, there is an constant amount of water on the earth.. there is a big chance that the water that you drink.. went through somebody already

  4. head looks huge! I guess its because of the non-existence of gravity allowing the blood to pool towards the areas that need it, chest and head.

  5. wow 93% water is recycled, so basically u can drink the same drop of water 10 times before it evaporates. So awesome.

  6. but where does it evaporate? into space? they shouldnt leaking any water..:/ where do the 7 % go??Oo

  7. It would be costly compared to the current way most cities get their water, and most cities will always choose the cheaper option Interestingly enough, some ships on the ocean do make their own water by processing the salt water into fresh. So, although we don't purify water the Space ship way, our Earth ships do create water.

  8. they put in in containers, and then when another vehicle comes back to earth it dumps all of the ISS's trash into the autmosphere

  9. uyy cuando uno esta en el espacio lo que ha comido se mueve en el estomago al estar en gravedad

  10. Your question should not have received so many down votes.
    Apparently people have forgotten that clean water is a critical natural resource and is not accessible to far too many people.

    This tech on the ISS proves that yes, there could be an unlimited supply of clean fresh water for all on Earth, but sadly it would almost certainly be prohibitively expensive for public use :/

  11. You drink water.. Some of that water stays in you… But you will urinate some of it out… Or sweat it out. Then that evaporates and E.G the water cycle.

  12. I can swallow the thought that im drinking my filtered urin and sweat, but from all the other people on the station?? Or do you drink only ur own…

  13. Chris, it's a shame for us that you must retire, but you deserve to have a long, happy, musical retirement! Who knows, if "Space-tourism" becomes commonplace, maybe you could be back up in orbit.

  14. For people grossed out by the urine thing: The water you drink every day was pissed out of an animal or human at SOME point.

  15. I don't think so, but we could drastically reduce the amount of water that becomes unusable. The thing is, the ISS is a closed system, so everything that's in it stays there. The Earth is an open system, so even if your plumbing all ran on a closed system, you'd still end up losing some water through sweat, tears, etc. and then there's water used to clean floors, for swimming pools, and other things. Much more would be conserved, but overall I think there'd be a net "loss" of usable water.

  16. Agreed. From what I could see on the keg, it looks like the waste water runs through some sort of HPLC system, or at least uses the filters from HPLC. To implement such a system on Earth, it would undoubtedly be expensive, but perhaps there are ways to refine and streamline the system and components to make it less so.

  17. The filtration alone would be very expensive, and a lot of things would have to be reworked so that plumbing is routed through those filters.

  18. they took cats aboard one of the missions. Cats can't function in space because they use gravity to orient themselves. Dogs however can still move though, but will need to be adapted to waste disposal

  19. Alright, obviously it's not going to rain in space or anything like that (not unless the Chinese space program is feeling like pulling a little prank on the ISS). However, are there any frozen water particles in orbit that could be "collected" or attracted to the station? While small, over time I envision this might provide a supplementary supply of water (if it is at all feasible).

  20. Couldn't you drink ionized water on ISS? That way any stray water wouldn't be able to short-circuit any electronics.

  21. That's just the thing. We do. All water is purified in a water treatment plant and then let back out into the system. The water you flush your toilet with comes from exactly the same place as your drinking water. When we need more water we just pump some up from the ground water deposits below the earth's surface.

  22. Yes it is, but it doesn't contain any nutrients so if you just drank urine your would eventually die.

  23. Is it allowed to drink any (drinkable) liquid if it is outside the packaging, or would there be something like "wrong" with it?

  24. after looking at it was few times, you can see two of them.  Now that you said that, I am wondering the same thing or it may be water?  The world may never know.

  25. Fascinating! Now if we could only reclaim 93% of our water here on earth we wouldn't have to worry about where to find sources of fresh water for the growing population.

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