Friday, July 15, 2011

Cool Technology of the Week

I'm a Sci-Fi fan and the works of Frank Herbert (the Dune series) have always been some of my most treasured reading material.   I was particularly fascinated (from an engineering perspective) by the concept of the Stillsuit worn by the Fremen which recycled  lost body water to aid survival in the harsh desert climate of Dune.

Now, the Stillsuit is a reality and Nasa astronauts are testing a self contained device powered by the principles of osmosis that recycles urine into an sweetened, electrolyte-balanced sports drink.

Some may joke that Gatorade's color and flavor make it a natural for such "recycling" already, but the engineering behind body water recycling is serious business.

As a doctor, I know that drink urine in a dehydration emergency is a losing battle - the solute load is too high and your body will get thirstier and thirstier.  

This osmosis approach ensures the free water exceeds the solute load, hydrating the body instead of further compromising it.

A self contained body fluid recycler for astronauts and survival - that's cool!  Frank Herbert would be proud.

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