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Fw: [blindlikeme] Blast Off

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  • Linette Sukup
    Not quite on topic, but interesting. Peace. Linette ... From: Boyce, Ray To: Sent: Tuesday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2004
      Not quite on topic, but interesting.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Boyce, Ray" <Ray.Boyce@...>
      To: <Blindlikeme@...>
      Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 4:27 PM
      Subject: [blindlikeme] Blast Off

      > Hi Everyone
      > Ready for blast-off - the ultimate in Portaloos
      > Date: August 25 2004
      > By Kenneth Chang
      > When astronauts eventually leave for Mars, one of the biggest issues will
      > carrying enough water for such a long trip. A $US49,000 ($69,000) toilet
      > developed
      > in the US may provide an answer.
      > When NASA engineers first considered manned missions to Mars to follow the
      > moon landings, they imagined the astronauts would simply pack lots of
      > and
      > food. But the high cost of travelling from Earth to Mars led to estimates
      > $US1 trillion for such a mission.
      > Engineers have also looked to slash weight and costs through recycling
      > food and water, with the spacecraft perhaps carrying as little as 3800
      > litres
      > of water per astronaut for a trip that would take six months one way. (By
      > contrast, each of us typically uses about 378 litres of water a day.)
      > "Recycling is going to be important," says Jeffrey Volenec, a professor of
      > agronomy who has been working on the problem at Purdue University in
      > Indiana.
      > As part of a five-year, $US10 million, NASA-financed program for
      > technologies to survive lengthy space travel, researchers at Purdue have
      > built
      > a system using plants and bacteria to transform faeces and urine into
      > fertiliser and potable water.
      > The contraption begins with a converted portable toilet in a laboratory.
      > Inside the stall is a toilet, similar to ones on airliners that use a
      > instead
      > of water to empty the bowl.
      > Volunteers deposit their urine down one pipe, where it is collected and
      > partially frozen. The frozen portion is almost pure water ice; the
      > impurities are
      > left in the remaining unfrozen liquid.
      > The system recovers about 30 per cent of the water in urine, but
      > believe the yield can be raised to nearly 90 per cent.
      > Meanwhile, the faeces flow to a cylindrical container which is heated to
      > degrees to kill microbes.
      > After 10 days of the bacteria munching on the mix, the result is 97 per
      > water and 3 per cent residual solids.
      > "You can't shower with that or eat it - it smells odd," Volenec says. One
      > way to purify the water would be to boil it and condense the steam, but
      > would
      > consume large amounts of energy.
      > Instead, Volenec spreads the liquid onto plants. The residual solids
      > fertilise the plants, and the plants pull water from the soil. When it
      > reaches the
      > leaves, the moisture evaporates in the air. Cold pipes above condense the
      > vapour, producing clean recycled water.
      > So far, tomatoes and peppers have not grown well in the sewage mixture,
      > rice and some marsh grasses have. The processed sewage mixture could also
      > used for raising fish or growing mushrooms to feed astronauts.
      > Using plants to cleanse the water and air on a spacecraft would add a new
      > level of complexity, however. If the plants died, the astronauts would
      > too.
      > "We have to get the systems to function reliably for a long period of
      > says Dr Daniel* Barta, from NASA's advanced life support office. "We can't
      > come
      > back to Earth and fix them."
      > The New York Times
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