Toward a reverse osmosis membrane system for recycling space mission wastewater.

S. Lee*, Richard M Lueptow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Essential to extended human exploration and utilization of space is providing a clean supply of potable water as well as water for washing. Recycling of space mission wastewater is necessary for long-term space missions due to the limited capacity of water storage. In this study, initial measurements toward a wastewater reclamation system that provides a clean water supply using reverse osmosis (RO) membranes have been made using stirred cell filtration experiments. Low-pressure reverse osmosis (LPRO) membranes were used to obtain high flux of permeate as well as high rejection. Detergent removal was above 99%, and dissolved salt removal was above 90% in single-pass treatment, while total organic carbon (TOC) removal was nearly 80%. Most problematic is nitrogen rejection, which was 74% at best. Comparison of feed water before and after urea hydrolysis shows that the rejection of nitrogen compounds can be increased to 95% by allowing urea hydrolysis to occur. The removal efficiency for nitrogen compounds was also improved by increasing the shear rate near membrane surface. As a result, the product water in two passes could meet the hygiene water requirements for human space missions, and the product water in three passes could meet potable water regulations with overall recovery of 77%. This study also suggests that dynamic rotating membrane filtration, which can produce a high shear rate, will be useful to increase the system recovery as well as pollutant rejection. Grant numbers: NAG9-1053

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalLife support & biosphere science : international journal of earth space
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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