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How NASA Turns Urine Into Water ? The Technology Behind NASA’s Urine Recycling Process

The Technology Behind NASA’s Urine Recycling Process

Urine recycling is a difficult and long-term process, but in some cases we have to turn the urine into drinking and utility water.For astronauts, it’s extremely important to conserve resources like food and water during long-duration space missions as it is practically impossible to carry enough food to space. And how NASA preserves water is quite interesting.

In a recent article published by NASA, they explained how American astronauts recycle their urine into water that can be used again for drinking purposes. This innovation can serve to make the future space voyages more sustainable. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how this technology works and what are its benefits.

How Does This Technology Work?

The urine recycler is a closed-loop system that uses a multi-stage filtration system that contains urine pretreatment, biological treatment, and chemical treatment stages. The pretreatment stage removes large particles like hair and lint from the urine whereas the biological and chemical treatment removes organic compounds like ammonia, urea, and other contaminants.

This system uses naturally occurring microorganisms to break complex organic molecules like urea into simple smaller molecules like ammonia and carbon dioxide gases. Water is then separated from these molecules using a distillation process that yields clean water that can be used for drinking or other purposes.

Benefits of Urine Recycling

The obvious benefit of urine recycling is that it reduces the need for water resupply for space missions that are on long-duration flights. NASA currently uses a “water flight plan” to meet the water requirements of the astronauts.

They continuously send water resupply to the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft. Urine recycling can help reduce the amount of water that needs to be sent. It also reduces the amount of waste produced by space missions. 

Challenges and Concerns

One major concern regarding this technology is the health and safety of the astronauts. The water treatment must meet strict safety standards to minimize the health issues associated with its consumption. There is always a fear that contaminants might not be separated completely from water and may cause health problems.

Setting up this system can also prove to be costly. The upfront cost of its installation and adoption can be quite high. Moreover, operation and maintenance can add to the sum.

Future Implications of Urine Recycling

This revolutionary technology has the potential to support future space missions to Mars and other deep space destinations. As researchers are trying to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit, urine recycling technology can help conserve water as it’s not possible to carry enough water for these travels.

Moreover, resource-intensive industries like mining and agriculture can benefit from this technology to use water more effectively.


NASA’s urine recycling technology turns astronauts’ urine into drinking water by filtering all the non-water components from it. This technology can improve resource management in space missions and reduce the need for re-supply missions. 

While there are some concerns regarding the safety of recycled water and potential health issues, this technology is expected to improve in the future and increase the efficiency of not only space missions but also other resource-intensive industries.