Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

The Sabatier System: Producing Water on the ISS

NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock, Expedition 25 commander, works to install the new Sabatier system that will extract more water out of the International Space Station atmosphere. (NASA)
by Jessica Nimon
Houston TX (SPX) May 13, 2011
Drinkable water is one of the primary and most important assets for human survival. So when preparing for a journey, whether to sea or to space, planners must take this vital resource into consideration. Stowage space during such voyages always comes at a premium. It is no different for the International Space Station and the resupply vehicles that dock there.

A great example of a solution to minimize size and weight in life support is the recently launched Sabatier system. Originally developed by Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Paul Sabatier in the early 1900s, this process uses a catalyst that reacts with carbon dioxide and hydrogen - both byproducts of current life-support systems onboard the space station - to produce water and methane.

This interaction closes the loop in the oxygen and water regeneration cycle. In other words, it provides a way to produce water without the need to transport it from Earth.

The fundamental technology for this particular system has been in development for the past 20 years. The overall schedule for hardware production, however, was under two years. This accelerated timeline was a significant challenge for the complex Sabatier, which contains a furnace, a multistage compressor, and a condenser/phase-separation system. The fact that recycling system feeds for Sabatier were already available on the station helped to simplify some of the design tasks by reducing the unknowns.

According to Jason Crusan, chief technologist for space operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, the previous development and solid interfaces allowed NASA to try out a new way of acquiring services for the station with Sabatier. "Being able to demonstrate innovative new methods to acquire technical capabilities is one of the key cornerstones the space station can serve for future missions and approaches to those missions," Crusan explained.

Using developing technologies and productive systems enables the station to squeeze every drop from the resources that must launch from Earth. In addition to improving the efficiency of the station's resupply capabilities, Sabatier also frees up storage space.

This helps to maximize the area available for science facilities and engineering equipment. The knowledge gained from such systems also advances the collective understanding of technologies to advance spaceflight and help solve similar problems on Earth.

The Sabatier system has long been a part of the space station plan, but the retirement of NASA's space shuttles elevated the need for new resources to provide water. For a decade, shuttles have provided water for the station as a byproduct of the fuel cells they use to generate electricity. Sabatier supplements the capability of resupply vehicles to provide water to the station, without becoming a sole source for this critical station resource.

Currently in operation on the station, Sabatier is the final piece of the regenerative environmental control and life-support system. This hardware was successfully activated in October 2010 and interacts directly with the Oxygen Generation System, which provides hydrogen, sharing a vent line.

Prior to Sabatier, the Oxygen Generation System vented excess carbon dioxide and hydrogen overboard. Rather than wasting these valuable chemicals, Sabatier enables their reuse to generate additional water for the station. With room and resources at a premium in space, this is a significant contribution to the space station's supply chain.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Johnson Space Center
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

ISS orbit to be readjusted for Soyuz TMA-20 return
Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) May 06, 2011
The orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) will be raised by 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) on Thursday, Russian Mission Control said. "The readjustment is necessary to ensure the best conditions for the successful return of Soyuz TMA-20 crew to Earth on May 24," Mission Control said in a statement. Soyuz TMA-20 will bring back members of Expedition 27 - Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kon ... read more

Another Ariane 5 begins its assembly at the Spaceport

ST-2's installation on SYLDA marks the start of final payload integration for Ariane 5's next mission

Arianespace to launch ABS-2 in 2013

GSAT-8 put through its paces

Opportunity Cracks The 18-Mile Mark

Mars Science Laboratory Aeroshell Delivered To Launch Site

Mars Express Sees Deep Fractures on Mars

Opportunity Images Small Craters

Earth's Nearest Neighbor Within Reach

A Wrinkly Old Reveal Clues To Its Past

MoonBots Challenges Teams to Conduct Lunar Missions with LEGO Robots

Space Adventures proposes modified Soyuz TMA for Lunar tourists

'Dwarf planet' is covered in crystal ice

Carbon monoxide detected around Pluto

The PI's Perspective: Pinch Me!

Later, Uranus: New Horizons Passes Another Planetary Milestone

Flipping Hot Jupiters

What a scorcher: 'Hot Jupiter' puzzle explained

An Earth as Dense as Lead

Astronomers unveil portrait of 'super-exotic super-Earth'

India Lines Up Three PSLV Launches This Year

J-2X Test Series Proves Part Integrity

ISRO to Set Up Sub-Systems Integration Facility

UMaine Students Test Wireless Sensors on Rocket

Top Chinese scientists honored with naming of minor planets

China sees smooth preparation for launch of unmanned module

China to attempt first space rendezvous

Countdown begins for Chineses space station program

NASA Goddard Managed Comet Hopper Mission Selected for Further Study

NASA's Dawn Captures First Image of Nearing Asteroid

Dawn - first visual contact with Vesta

Engineering Tests Leading The Way For NASA's Next Neemo Mission

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement