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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

Water Recovery Project (WRP)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The AES Water Recovery Project (WRP) is advancing environmental control and life support systems water recovery technologies to support human exploration beyond low earth orbit. For FY12-14, the AES Water Recovery Project is focused on the following: Cascade Distillation System (CDS):  development of new primary processor for water recovery Brine Water Recovery:  develop/test systems to recover water from urine brines GreenTreat:  evaluate effectiveness of low toxicity urine pretreatments Dormancy: assess impacts of dormancy (unmanned time periods) on beyond LEO water systems Silver Biocide: investigate usage of silver biocide for potable water disinfection Water System Architecture: establish the architecture for NASA's future Water Recovery System This project merged into AES Life Support Systems Project in FY15.

The development of reliable, energy-efficient, and low-mass spacecraft systems to provide environmental control and life support (ECLS) is critical to enable long duration human missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). The Human Exploration Framework Team (HEFT) identified high-reliability life support systems as a required technology for destinations beyond cis-lunar space. The AES Water Recovery Project (WRP), led by Johnson Space Center (JSC) and partnered with the Ames Research Center (ARC), Glenn Research Center (GRC), and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is advancing water recovery technologies within the framework established by HEFT and the AES program. Recycling of life support consumables is necessary to reduce resupply mass and provide for vehicle autonomy. Although an integrated life support system is made up of a variety of systems to sustain functions such as atmospheric revitalization, thermal control, and waste management, a major driver in the sizing of a life support system is the Water Recovery System (WRS). As mission durations increase, recycling of water becomes critical. Stored water is inadequate, and wastewater sources must be recycled into potable water. The state-of-the-art (SOA) WRS used on board the International Space Station (ISS) relies on a high rate of consumable use and has experienced issues with precipitation and biofouling that have required operational and design changes. Due to these issues the recovery rate of wastewater on ISS (Condensate and Urine) is currently limited to approximately 74%. The mission of the AES Water Recovery project is to develop advanced water recovery systems in order to enable NASA human exploration missions beyond LEO. The primary objective of the AES WRP is to develop water recovery technologies critical to near term missions beyond LEO. The secondary objective is to continue to advance mid-readiness level technologies to support future NASA missions. They also lead to further closure of the WRS, approaching the goal of 98% closure established by the Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems road map (OCT TA06).

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