Chances are you've enjoyed a refreshing Gatorade or Powerade at some point in your life, perhaps after working out or playing sports. But would you be quite as eager to drink that energy drink if you knew it got its origins from urine?
One of the coolest things that NASA tested during its Atlantis flight was whether a forward osmosis bag could turn urine into an energy drink in zero gravity type atmospheres.
Researchers in the past have turned urine into a drinkable liquid, even Kevin Costner in Waterworld managed to do it, but this process is a bit different. Instead of relying on electricity, as most do, the process used is a thing called forward osmosis.
Forward osmosis works by separating the water from the rest of the solutes and forcing it through a membrane into the solution. In this case, the forward osmosis bag gets the water away from the rest of the product and then mixes it with sugars and other ingredients to create an energy drink.
On the Atlantis shuttle voyage, astronauts decided to just use dirty water and not their own urine but they still have set up an interesting debate for future research. It'd be interesting to see if government outlets, such as the Army or Marines, might investigate supplying these types of forward osmosis bags to soldiers in combat.
It certainly could come in handy if deep in trenches or other unmovable terrain to be able to get an energy boost from a soldier's natural products. The big question though is whether any soldier or any person period would want to drink an energy made out of his/her own urine.
If you'd like to see how the forward osmosis bag works, take a look at a 14 minute video NASA released.