QinetiQ Space to purify water for European space missions

Summary

The East Flanders company QinetiQ Space is developing a prototype for a water purifications system to be used in space missions, which would treat wastewater

Water recycling crucial in space

QinetiQ Space in Kruibeke, East Flanders, has signed a contract of €1.1 million with the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead the development of a prototype of a water purification unit. The purpose of the installation is to improve the recycling of urine and wastewater during space missions.

The information provided by the prototype will be crucial for the creation of general water purification systems in future space missions. Astronauts would use the treated water to wash themselves, or it could be purified for drinking water. The prototype must take into account gravity, the required force and the life expectancy of components in a different atmosphere.

Both the Flemish Institute for Technical Research (VITO) and Ghent University (UGent) are collaborate in the project. VITO is working on membrane technology, while UGent is responsible for the subsystem that purifies urine and for the general tests.

“Water is essential during long space missions,” said commercial director Frank Preud’homme of QinetiQ. “A crew of six uses about 166 litres per day, or about 60,500 litres a year.”