The organization of the International Space Station is a small dictionary of efficiency. There are many systems that optimize resources to the maximum to increase permanence and comfort in a hostile environment like it space.
Among the many systems and needs of astronauts is to recycle all their urine (and wastewater) into potable drinking water.
Today a company that has designed an efficient wastewater recovery system for NASA also aimed the viewfinder on dry land. The hope is that space-like technology can improve access to clean water around the world.
A urine-drinking technology is yet another example of how a technology designed to help humanity meet the challenges of life in space could tangibly improve conditions on earth as well.
Sure, astronauts in space need to be creative with their water supply, but that doesn't mean people need to start drinking urine to access clean water.
Rather Aquaporin, the company behind the new system, suggests that the same type of technology could be used to clean up other types of wastewater or filter existing drinking water supplies to the point that they could be used. It can make a difference, and not just in developing countries: in Europe, for example, only the 55% of citizens drink from the tap.
The technology works similar to the way our kidneys filter contaminants from fluids: wastewater flows through proteins called aquaporins which block the passage of everything but the water itself.
Water, source of life
According to CNN, an estimated 2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and a system like Aquaporin could help remove pollution and plastic from the water that ends up in our bodies.
"Aquaporin has enormous potential," he told CNN Dines Thornberg. He is the head of innovation at BIOFOS, Denmark's largest state-owned wastewater plant. “I think the Aquaporin system could pave the way for the creation of clean and affordable drinking water from wastewater in the future. I am really optimistic that we can address the challenges of water scarcity in many parts of the world with technologies like this. "