Human habitation of space hinges on the creation of a safe and healthy environment to support life. Water, along with oxygen and food, is a critical life sustaining factor. Shipping of water from earth for extended space missions is impossible because of the unwieldy nature of transport, both in terms of costs and logistics involved. Thus recycling and reclamation is the only way to ensure that every drop of water counts. MMI will develop a photocatalytic capillary membrane distillation system for the reclamation of water from urine and other forms of impure water that are produced by human life in space. When installed in a spacecraft/space station, this will reduce or eliminate the need to transport water from earth. The incorporation of the photocatalytic unit to decompose the organic impurities in water will prevent fouling of the capillary membrane, thus enabling long term use of the reclamation unit during space travel.
Wastewater recycling/reclamation is crucial for successful long-duration space travel. Water available for recycling comes from three primary sources: humidity condensate, wash-water, and urine. The photocatalytic capillary membrane distillation system will be integrated into Life Support and Habitation Systems of NASA that support Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Systems, Advanced Food Technology and Biological Life Support.
The water treatment unit can be used to purify drinking water supplied by public water suppliers as well as private bodies. It can also be used as a portable unit to convert brackish water into drinkable water at remote locations. The technology may also be extended to treat wastewater from industrial operations especially in fracking or from rest stops, commercial buildings and apartments