ISS to produce water from byproducts

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WASHINGTON - The NASA has announced that a new system has been launched for the production of water from byproducts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Sabatier system can create up to 530 gallons of water per year from byproducts of the station’s Oxygen Generation System and Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly. The process is named after Paul Sabatier, a 1912 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Xinhua reported.

“This is an important step forward in NASA’s commercialisation endeavours and shows how successful private industry can be at providing solutions on its own,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

“The ability to produce this water will be important for sustaining space station operations once the shuttle is retired,” he said.

The system was integrated into the space station’s Water Recovery System in the second week of October. Activation and first use of the system were completed Oct 22.

The process uses a nickel catalyst to interact with hydrogen and carbon dioxide at elevated temperatures and pressures to produce water and methane. The water is retained for recycling processes, and the methane is vented out of the space station.

Prior to adding the Sabatier system, hydrogen produced while generating station oxygen was considered waste gas and vented overboard. Carbon dioxide generated by crew metabolism was also vented overboard.

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