Thursday, May 21, 2009

Urine and Sweat Recycled as Drinking Water

Astronauts at the International Space Station have taken recycling to a new level. My Way News reported as follows on the use of purified urine and sweat as drinking water.

"Astronauts aboard the space station celebrated a space first on Wednesday by drinking water that had been recycled from their urine, sweat and water that condenses from exhaled air. They said "cheers," clicked drinking bags and toasted NASA workers on the ground who were sipping their own version of recycled drinking water.

"The taste is great," American astronaut Michael Barratt said. Then as Russian Gennady Padalka tried to catch little bubbles of the clear water floating in front of him, Barratt called the taste "worth chasing."

Although it is not really needed on earth, the use of recycled body wastes is a major cost efficiency breakthrough for any space program. The cost of shipping water out to a space ship is absolutely astronomical. (No pun intended) It is hard to imagine how interplanetary travel could seriously be contemplated without recycling urine and sweat.

Perhaps parts of the world with severe water shortages might find such technology useful. But in parts of the world with abundant rainfall, the market might be very limited. Only someone totally committed to recycling is likely to have a pipe line from their toilet to their water cooler. For most of us, the idea of recycled drinking water is a tad too exotic.

But if Madison Avenue ever decides to tale up the cause of recycled water, they might come up with some interesting slogans.

"Those of you who want to "go green" now have a choice of colours!" could be one slogan.

New York could name recycled bottled water after neighbourhoods and streets. Queens residents would probably like "Flushing" bottled water. (Triple filtered. We promise.) Brooklynites who want to name their recycled water after a local street might settle on Avenue P. French restaraunts in Manhattan would probably offer "Oui Oui" brand recycled water.

The Midwest will probably weigh in with its own brand of recycled water. "Gee Whizz". is one likely name that comes to mind.

Recycled sweat also offers opportunities for new brand names in the recycled water market. "Pittsburgh" would be a very good name for such recycled water. Before you know it, there will be flavoured versions of recycled water. Imagine the ads. "Royal Flush recycled water now comes in three flavours. Original, Ban and Right Guard."

Sooner or later, budget brands of recycled water would come up "STP" (Sewage Treatment Plant) might be a good name for vitamin enriched recycled water if the trademark infringement problems can be worked out.

On a more serious note, the space program will probably save a whole lot of money on supplying the space shuttle astronauts. As tempting as it might be to make a lot of tasteless jokes about their latest breakthrough, the technology will probably have a multitude of useful applications. As the space program opens new frontiers, it will probably solve a lot of problems on earth as well. And for this we should be grateful.

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