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NASA's New Bag Turns Urine Into Sports Drink

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I'm-afraid-that's-not-lemon-flavored-dave dept.

NASA 182

An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Atlantis shuttle is set to launch this Friday, and its crew will be testing an innovative device that can recycle human urine into a sugary sports drink. The bag uses forward osmosis technology and features a semi-permeable membrane capable of isolating water from virtually any liquid. Recycling urine in this way has a significant effect on a ship's payload, and considering that a single pound adds $10,000 of cost, that slight weight difference can translate to serious savings." CT: I'm at Kennedy Space Center now, tweeting as @cmdrtaco. And I think I'll stay away from the sports drink.

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182 comments

Having tasted many sports drinks... (5, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36685976)

I bet they could have gotten away with just a regular plastic bag.

Re:Having tasted many sports drinks... (2)

edraven (45764) | more than 2 years ago | (#36685996)

I was going to say, doesn't Gatorade do this already?

Re:Having tasted many sports drinks... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686126)

I haven't tasted urine, but based on the reactions of people who have, I'm guessing you haven't either.

Just ask Bear Grylls (5, Funny)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#36685982)

Piss was already a sports drink.

Re:Just ask Bear Grylls (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686940)

Never could stand that guy. What I saw of his show looked like surviva-sensationalism. I always preferred Survivor Man who was by no means without flaw. Rather than drinking his own piss to get a reaction out of the viewers, he build a urine still and drank purified water. I-am-not-a-mountain-man, but I always thought that urine was filled with toxins and drinking your own would be as detrimental as drinking sea water.

Re:Just ask Bear Grylls (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687268)

Survivor Man just had to survive, Grylls is moving from a drop location to an extraction point.

Re:Just ask Bear Grylls (1)

Kharny (239931) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687356)

no, survivor man has to survive, grylls is going with a full camera crew from scene to scene and sleeps in hotels

Re:Just ask Bear Grylls (4, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687364)

Drinking urine when no other source of fluid is available is better than simply dehydrating and is better than drinking sea water. However, once dehydration has set in, drinking urine only compounds the issue. The body is already trying to get rid of sodium to maintain the proper balance, and drinking the urine just adds it back into the body. This leads to even more thirst as the body craves water to balance things out again.

This is why Les Stroud built the urine still. The water was relatively clean and safer to drink, though you get diminishing returns if that's all you have. It may provide a holdover until you can find a better source of water.

As the Brits would say, "they're taking the piss!" (1, Redundant)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686000)

Or as the Germans would say - "but it already is a sports drink" .

Sugary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686004)

Sounds like someone has the diabeeetus.

Stillsuit (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686008)

NASA has given us one of the major components required for a functioning stillsuit. Thanks, NASA!

My favorite quote applies (3, Funny)

Synn (6288) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686020)

"You cannot pee into a Mr. Coffee and get Taster's Choice!"

Re:My favorite quote applies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686448)

"You cannot pee into a Mr. Coffee and get Taster's Choice!"

It does taste quite similar to warm Budweiser, though.

Re:My favorite quote applies (1)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686588)

Red Dwarf Quote here:

"We need to get fresh water; the urine's been recycled so much it's stronger than the lager!"

That is one beta test I am glad I am not part of (1, Insightful)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686024)

Recycling urine does sound like an efficient and logical thing to do in a space craft, but I'd hate to be the one testing it.

Clear as Rocky Mountain spring water (2)

Orleron (835910) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686036)

....and by removing the filter, the bag can convert urine into Coors Lite.

Re:Clear as Rocky Mountain spring water (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686124)

No, Coors light doesn't have much flavor, so a filter is almost certainly necessary.

Re:Clear as Rocky Mountain spring water (3, Funny)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686402)

....and by removing the filter, the bag can convert urine into Coors Lite.

Add one redneck and you have a perpetual (quasi) beer machine.

Let the "Mountain Dew" Comments flow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686070)

Just please tell me it is NOT yellow after being "processed"...

Branding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686092)

They could just pee in empty Budweiser bottles, no one would notice the difference once it is refrigerated

Re:Branding (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686412)

They could just pee in empty Budweiser bottles, no one would notice the difference once it is refrigerated

ROFL!!!

You got that right.

work with sea water? (3, Interesting)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686118)

Assuming it can filter out a bacterial infection in piss so will it work to make sea water drinkable?

Re:work with sea water? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686230)

It might work, but how are they going to fit the entire ocean in the shuttle before it's next launch?

Re:work with sea water? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686276)

They already do this, a company named SeaPack sells one.

Forgive me the Amazon link, but the other sites talking about it were blogs, and sites I can't get to from work.

http://www.amazon.com/Hydration-Technology-Innovations-SeaPack-Filter/dp/B0013J2UPA

Tekfactory

Re:work with sea water? (4, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686568)

This technology isn't new. It's being used around the world already. The company's name is Hydration Technology, not SeaPack. SeaPack is the product name for that particular version intended for maritime use.

They provide the same kind of devices for humanitarian purposes. There is at least one version for military use, and I was able to pick up a few of the early versions through a company contact.

Here's the direct link: http://www.htiwater.com/ [htiwater.com]

Re:work with sea water? (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686790)

I was hoping I wasn't the only one who had read about similar products, already on the market.
I wonder who the supplier is for NASA's version, and how much more it costs than commercially-available products?

What about drugs/hormones? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686162)

With the realization that effluent from sewage plants has detectable amounts of antidepressants, estrogen (from birth control pills), and other modern drugs which may be impacting river life, I'd really like to know that this membrane stops those (as well as "virtually any liquid"). I'd hate to spend a couple of months in space and find that I now had breasts due to water-transported hormones from the women on the crew...and that they'd grown muscles and body hair due to mine.

Re:What about drugs/hormones? (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686390)

With the realization that effluent from sewage plants has detectable amounts of antidepressants, estrogen (from birth control pills), and other modern drugs which may be impacting river life, I'd really like to know that this membrane stops those (as well as "virtually any liquid"). I'd hate to spend a couple of months in space and find that I now had breasts due to water-transported hormones from the women on the crew...and that they'd grown muscles and body hair due to mine.

Given the antidepressants are you sure you would hate it? :-)

Re:What about drugs/hormones? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686960)

Seeing as you're posting on Slashdot (along with me I might add), that might be the only chance you have to get your hands on some boobies.

Re:What about drugs/hormones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687034)

Newsflash: Nerds can get laid nowadays.

Re:What about drugs/hormones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687214)

Heh... Not all of us on here have an issue with being able to fondle boobies...just nearly all of us... >:-D

Re:What about drugs/hormones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687302)

I'd hate to spend a couple of months in space and find that I now had breasts due to water-transported hormones from the women on the crew...and that they'd grown muscles and body hair due to mine.

Why would that be a bad thing? The women could do all the heavy lifting while you floated around and played with your boobies.

So what ? (2)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686174)

I don't get the "Eww" comments. You do realize that what you flush down the toilet goes to a gigantic pond where the solids settle out then the remaining liquids are pumped through filters and sent right back to your faucet, don't you?

This is just a handy portable (potable?) option to the system already in place in most North American cities.

Re:So what ? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686478)

I don't get the "Eww" comments. You do realize that what you flush down the toilet goes to a gigantic pond where the solids settle out then the remaining liquids are pumped through filters and sent right back to your faucet, don't you?

And to some of the bottled water bottling plants. :-)

And for those relieved that their bottled water comes from mountain streams ... look into why hikers and backpackers near such stream generally carry water filters or sterilization tools.

Re:So what ? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686550)

For most people, the process has so many hidden intermediate steps that they can mentally separate the urine from the "fresh" drinking water. In this case, we're being shown a small number of non-hidden intermediate steps which increases the "eww factor." (That "eww factor" being a handy survival skill because, before the invention of modern filtering systems, you didn't want to go about drinking your urine or anything that you had recently urinated into.

Re:So what ? (3, Informative)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686990)

I have a well for my house, with a commercial reverse osmosis filtering system. So no, I don't realize that.

Aside from that, most of the cities around me get their drinking water directly from Lake Michigan. The 'sewage' that you mention gets treated and sold as 'soil' at the local home improvement store after being mixed with sand to prevent clumping. The fluid component also gets treated and sent off to agriculture where it is used as fertilizer. Any other reclaimed water is used mainly for irrigation or industrial uses, and not drinking water.

You only have a surface understanding of these processes, and it doesn't apply to very many actual cities, and millions of people. In actuality, there are probably only a few thousand people in the US who directly get drinking water from treated sewage like you describe.

Re:So what ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687046)

Not quite. Most water is only goes through secondary treatment and is good for irrigation. Potable water must be tertiary treated to completely kill all biologicals. This is rarely done at city water treatment plants since there's plenty of need for irrigation or gray water in power plants.

Suddenly I dont want to be an astronaut (1)

Uhhhh oh ya! (1000660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686188)

It will be funny how many jokes these guys will have to put up with when they get back to earth.

Is this just an adapted SeaPack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686200)

SeaPack makes a Forward Osmosis water filtration bag that was designed for Seawater desalination and it produced a sports drink like liquid and if you had more pouches of the activation powder you could keep reusing the bag.

http://www.amazon.com/Hydration-Technology-Innovations-SeaPack-Filter/dp/B0013J2UPA

Tekfactory

Would you like a cookie? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686204)

"I'm at Kennedy Space Center now, tweeting as @cmdrtaco"

You're saying that like it's the first time anyone has done it. Welcome to 2009. And by the way, if you announce something "I'm now tweeting", try to update more than every two hours. New stories appear on /. faster than that.

:D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686210)

I, for one, welcome our pee drinking overlords!

Finished Product (2)

tbgreve (857544) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686278)

The taste has a little wang to it.

Re:Finished Product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686386)

The best part of your comment is "little wang". I just can't get past that.

On a factory scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686294)

Budweiser has been turning piss into beverages for decades.

disgusting deviant sex - drinking urine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686410)

I guess it must be close to the end of the world 12/21/12. People are drinking their own urine. Oy.

I'm making Urinade right now (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686438)

Vic Romano: And here's Bud White, he's creator of the all new make it yourself sports drink Urinade. For the athlete on the go who needs to get going.
Kenny Blankenship: I haven't tried Urinade. Have you, Vic?
Vic Romano: Actually Ken, I can't. Unfortunately my catheter filters out most of the nutrients. [mybrain.ej.am]

But it won't actually be tested with urine! (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 2 years ago | (#36686458)

The article says they are going to test it with an "experimental liquid" instead of urine. Talk about deceptive advertising!

Ok, where is the logic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686498)

There are no sports in space, only research and sleep/poop. Just recycle the urine with light weight activated carbon and drink away. You can do this with one small device also driven by solar energy. The idea is not new, and this is silly to call it a sugary sports drink. Sugar requires a LOT of water to process in the body. So this notion is self defeating as well, sad for NASA to come out once again looking stupid as shit.

Water is water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686518)

I'm sorry, but this is just speeding up what happens in nature. You think the water coming out of your tap is "new"? All water on earth has been the subject of repeated biological processes since life first evolved. You eat and drink molecules that were urine, excrement or both numerous times, and you breath air that has already been breathed repeatedly. Water is water. Drink it. Also: Yuck!

Now we now what you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686576)

Twinkle twinkle little star...

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686718)

Im surprised nobody's made a still-suit reference yet...

considering that a single pound adds $10,000 of co (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686772)

What flight?

Less yucky use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36686920)

Store it, heat it to a high temp and pump it out at a rediculouisly high pressure to use as a reactionary mass for manuevering.

Why drink it.

Best thing since Tang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687018)

I wander if this will take off like Tang did.

Diabetics (0)

Mistah Blue (519779) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687058)

As they use a sugar solution and create a sports drink, I wonder how viable this is for a diabetic. Typically diabetics are told to avoid juices and other sugary drinks as that tends to spike their blood sugar level.

Come see my magic box! (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687140)

It turns shit into chocolate pudding!

Mmmmm!

Welcome to McDonalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687206)

McDonalds does that with their meat all ready! no kidding. (its cow shit so its ok if you cook it extra! no kidding. look it up.)

nitrates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36687184)

Can the residue be used to make gunpowder in space?

Drink Pee or Wine (1)

sacridias (2322944) | more than 2 years ago | (#36687254)

Considering recent news (I can't remember if it was popsi or here) that alcohol reduces the effect of weightlessness. So now you have a choice, pee flavored energy drinks or wine to make you pee energy drinks.
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