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NASA to Recycle Astronaut Urine into Drinking Water

NASA has done a lot of cool things in its time, like putting the first man on the moon in 1969, but now the agency is attempting to do something even more spectacular than that: recycle urine into drinking water. It may sound disgusting, but it’s actually both an affordable and sustainable way for NASA to provide astronauts with clean drinking water.

Launching a shuttle into space is an extremely expensive endeavor, and so is launching water into space for the astronauts to drink. That’s why Michael Flynn, a life support engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California, is working on a new technology that will allow astronauts to drink their own urine.

The process is called “forward osmosis.” Forward osmosis removes toxic waste and pollutants from the waste stream. How does it work? The process uses the potential energy difference between salt water and fresh and passes water across a permeable membrane. The contaminated material, salt and other organic matter is left behind while the water comes out clean and filtered.

Image: htiwater

Watch Flynn discuss the process:

What’s great about this process is that not only will the astronauts be able to drink their own urine, but they’ll also be able to take showers, flush toilets, wash their hands and do their laundry with it.

Now that’s one giant leap for mankind!

About Trish Broome

Trish is a half Korean hip hop head who writes satire music articles on The Rap Insider and muses over culture and diversity on Mixed Nation. In her spare time you can find her eating kimchi or tweeting at @TheGreenGroove.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “NASA to Recycle Astronaut Urine into Drinking Water

  1. Poor, stupid Yankee Doodle, paying fortunes out to NASA for a cup of drinking water in outer space, all the while, pissing in his lakes, streams, seashores rivers, contaminated them spoiling them, when he should be spending the huge amounts of money, applying the scientific knowledge to restoring his drinking water sources, by utilizing his humanure resource flow for domestic fuel production and top-soil building fertilizers. No humanure flow can be neglected, all must be re-routed towards this end, to reclaim the once beautiful and pristine America we have so sorely abused. Time to clean up at home America!

    Posted by Bruce Miller | July 21, 2011, 1:13 pm

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