The new water purification system will work not only on the ISS, but also on the Moon

The International Space Station Environmental Control and Life Support System

Support System, ECLSS) is a systemlife support that provides or controls atmospheric pressure, fire detection and suppression, oxygen levels, waste management, and water supply. The new Brine Processor Assembly (BPA) will be linked to the overall system and will allow more water to be extracted from the crew's urine. This new technology will ultimately help scientists create better systems that will find their way into future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Water recovery system ensures cleanwater for use by astronauts through the reuse of urine, moisture condensation in the cabin from sweat, breathing and crew hygiene, and water obtained from the air recovery system. The urine treatment unit, which is part of the water recovery system, is designed to recover 85% of the water from the crew's urine. It has been significantly improved over the past year and is now restoring 87%. “This distillate is combined with condensate and treated with a Water Treatment Facility (WPA) that recovers 100% of the treated water,” explains Lane Carter, ISS Water Subsystem Manager in Marshall. "As a result, the overall water recovery is about 93.5%."

This chart shows how BPA fits into the water system. Credit: NASA

Astronaut crews on long exploration missions will need ECLSS systems to recover approximately 98% of the water they bring with them at the start of their voyages.

To leave low earth orbit andto ensure long-term studies away from the Earth, we need to close the water loop. Modern urine water recovery systems use distillation to form a saline solution. The brine treatment system receives this water-containing wastewater and extracts the remaining water.

Caitlyn Meyer, Associate Project Manager for Life Support Systems at NASA Johnson Space Center

Once installed in the station's Tranquility module, BPAwill pump brine from the advanced recirculation filter assembly to a double membrane cylinder. This chamber will selectively let water vapor into the cockpit atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, water will be drawn out of the air by another part of the water recovery system, a condensing heat exchanger. The heat exchanger will send the moisture back to the water treatment unit, where it is converted back to drinking water. Used BPA cylinders will be removed and stored and eventually discarded or returned to Earth for study.

“With this new processing devicebrine, we will extract additional water from the brine produced by the urine treatment device, so the overall water recovery is close to 98%, ”concludes Carter.

This chart shows how BPA fits into the water system. Credit: NASA

The brine treatment system will ultimately help support long-term crewed exploration missions and reduce the need for replenishment of water from Earth.

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