NASA has a way of turning urine into a sports drink

by Mark R

Remember the opening shot of Waterworld where Kevin Costner pees into a cup, puts it through a machine, and drinks it? Would it greatly surprise you to know that NASA is working on giving this technology to the astronauts?

The process uses forward osmosis, which is “the natural diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane from a solution of a lower concentration to a solution with a higher concentration”. This allows you to urinate into a bag, and then use the syringe attached to the receptacle bag to turn your liquid waste into a sugary electrolyte drink.

That’s right, you can turn your pee into Gatorade! I’m not certain whether I want to be the first to drink this. Some of you are probably finding this entire subject matter to be “gross”, and I think that is a perfectly human response. I would imagine that someone has to go against their natural instincts and actually try to drink the filtered urine.

It is pretty clear why NASA would need something like this aboard the space shuttle. I’ve heard that every pound adds $10,000 to the cost, and stored water is quite heavy. However, there has got to be a limit to how much you can pee and drink. Just like to cannot recycle a product continually, real water has to be drank.

Since I already mentioned Waterworld at the beginning of this piece, let me go on about it. Why did Kevin Costner have to pee in a cup to get fresh drinking water? Couldn’t he just use the miles of sea water around him? And why did he put the cup on the unsteady surface of a boat and urinate into it, instead of holding it closer to his bladder? Stuff like this just bothers me, or maybe it’s just the movie Waterworld.

Source 1 and Source 2

One review or comment

Nick Says: July 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

This may be a shocker but only 1% of the earths water is drinkable.

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