Water is essential for human life and hence a primary concern for space settlements. Pure or demineralized water is not suitable for human consumption. Therefore the composition of tap water is of great importance. Continue reading Tap water composition
In the previous post I did not discuss particular technologies to purify waste water and to turn it into clean water. One way to remove minerals from waste water are algae.
As orbital space settlements will get most of the energy from solar power, there is little use for biofuel. However, algae have a lot of other useful applications. Continue reading Sewage and Algae
Sewers are the summit of human civilization and taxation is the price of civilization. So we are supposed to pay sewer tax, right? No, not really. In this post I will explain how space settlements could fund a sewage and waste water treatment system without having to collect sewer charges. Continue reading Sewers and Taxes
As pointed out earlier the treatment of waste water is essential for the quality of live in space settlements. Waste water is full of substances which need to be removed from it, before it could be converted back to drinking water. In particular waste water is rich in nitrates and ammonium. Continue reading Waste water treatment
Humans need water to survive, and hence a reliable water supply is essential for Space Settlements. Fortunately Near Earth Objects consist for a substantial part of water. However human and industrial consumption of water produces waste water. Though we could “dump” this into space and replace it with fresh water from NEOs, that would be quite inefficient, and it also limites the growth of Space Settlements in the long run. Consequently we need to recycle water in Space habitats.
Basically we need a closed loop in which waste water is turned back into drinkable water. Hence a reliable and preferably cheap method of water purification is essential for the successful humanization of space.
A potentially promising method seems to be found. According to this article in the Science Daily, graphene is an excellent water filter. Not only is this method fast, it is also not energy intensive, and scientists hope to be able to turn seawater into freshwater just by using a hand pump with this graphene filter in the near future.
Nowadays graphene can be produced easily, and it is an allotrope of carbon, an element very abundantly in Near Earth Asteroids.
On a side note, we could wonder whether graphene filters can be used for extracting uranium from seawater. Though the concentration of uranium in seawater is low, the total amount of uranium in the oceans far exceed to total known reserves on land. But due to the concentration of uranium in seawater many scientists believe, extraction from seawater will be impracticable, at least with current market prices.
According to the Science Daily article, graphene filters can accurately distinguish between difference in atomic seizes. This would be important if we want to filter out uranium atoms from seawater.
Probably we would need two filters: one the filter out atoms and molecules larger than uranium, and a second filter which on let smaller atoms and molecules through. Consequently the uranium atoms will get trapped between the two filters, and with each cycle the concentration of uranium will increase.
If this procedure will be feasible, then most countries will be able to become self-sufficient in their uranium supply. Currently only a few countries dominate the world market.