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Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

10/30/2006 12:41 PM

A NASA project named "Environmental Control and Life Support Systems"--better known by its acronym ECLSS (pronounced "EE-cliss") is attempting to demonstrate that this (what the title says) is indeed feasible.

"The Russians are ahead of us," says Robyn Carrasquillo, engineering manager for ECLSS. "The original Salyut and Mir spacecraft were able to condense humidity right out of the air and use electrolysis—an electric current run through the water—to produce oxygen for breathing." NASA's new regenerative ECLSS, to be launched to ISS in 2008, goes further: "it can recover urine in addition to humidity."

Water will be extracted form the moisture in the exhaled air and water extracted from the urine. The water will be purified to potable standard and by means of electrolysis, also used in the generation of oxygen.

Read more in Science-at-NASA.

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#1

Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

10/30/2006 1:42 PM

I worked with one of the engineers who developed the water reclamation from urine systems for NASA when he worked for GE.

He told me that when the built the first prototype the stuck in the hall way of the building for testing, but nobody would drink from it.

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#2

Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

10/31/2006 12:47 AM

I read somewhere that water can be cleaned and recycled but removing things like steroids or estrogen etc is difficult. Is this correct or does it depend on the process used.

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#3
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Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

11/03/2006 7:07 PM

reverse osmosis works well, and rejects organics very well, however you can only remove 50-80% of the water before what is left forms crystals and it gets hard to pump.

You can distill it over to dryness and get 99% of the water out, but that also drives over some organics.

Best is to distil it over and then use reverse osmosis on it as you can then extract ~99%(because what boils over other than water is very small in % terms) In an air free system it can work at low temperatures and no baked and charred stuff occure.

True engineers will drink purified urine, as they trust their work

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#5
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Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

02/15/2007 7:24 AM

"reverse osmosis works well, and rejects organics very well, however you can only remove 50-80% of the water before what is left forms crystals and it gets hard to pump."

RO plants will only form crystals when driven beyond the rated performance of their membranes, usually by over-recovering the water and/or under-using antiscalants. RO is widely used to obtain drinking water from seawater on ships and oil rigs, along with other techniques like evaporation. Pumps on seawater plants run typically at 60-65barG. RO uses a lot of energy; evaporation more so.

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#4
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Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

02/15/2007 7:16 AM

There is a modern development, called the Membrane BioReactor [MBR for short], that produces a sterile water stream from highly-agitated municipal sewage. MBRs are exciting in wastewater treatment where a plant is needed to be expanded with a minimum consumption of additional footprint at the works, or where land is limited in the first place. Japan is, understndably, going bananas about them at the moment, and there have been a number of installations in other countries. MBR run-off is usually cleaner than any water source it is discharged into. One of the engineers involved with the Westbury WWTW MBR used to drink the water from the sample cock on the side of the works as a testament to the quality of the processing, according to local stories, though it is also said that the individual no longer works at this particular Works...

It is also said that the River Lea, which drains eastern Hertfordshire through east London to the River Thames, is fully consumed four times 'twixt source and sea.

Every drop of water on the planet has passed through some other organism before it comes out the taps, so what's new about drinking one's waste (rhetorical question)?

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#6
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Re: Drinking, Breathing Our Own Waste?

12/06/2007 7:44 AM

there is a new technology which - as I hear it - involves "spontaneous" electrolysis using free radicals. the hydrogen and oxygen atoms separate, reform as pure water, and all impurities drop to the..? bottom. The process uses 80% less energy that other processes and is of interest to the MOD for use on Destroyers. I'm interested in the international development use if solar power can make this system functional (and affordable) in remote locations. I'm scientifically illiterate. How does this sound?

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