A Sustainable Regolith-Based Water Recovery Concept for the Lunar Outpost 2009-01-2503
A long-term lunar outpost will require sustainable life support technologies that are capable of functioning for years with minimum resupply and maintenance. While life support resources such as water and air will remain in short supply, the availability of gravity, energy, and natural resources on the lunar surface allow for innovation in the design of outpost technologies, potentially including the adoption of terrestrial technologies previously not feasible for short duration microgravity flight.
One technology with potential for such innovation is the water recovery system. Current spacecraft water recovery systems rely on oxidizing pretreatment chemicals to stabilize wastewater, as microgravity compatible distillation or filtration systems are prone to fouling and failure.
Instead, the lunar outpost may consider using simple and robust terrestrial technologies such as media filters and solar disinfection, and distillation to recover water, taking advantage of the ready availability of lunar regolith, gravity, and solar energy. Therefore, rather than stabilizing wastewater such as urine for disposal, the wastewater could be encouraged to foul the media and form biofilms and precipitates that can then be filtered and the water reclaimed for future use.