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Author Topic: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?  (Read 2530 times)

Offline PennyB

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Hi, I was hoping someone could tell me if it is possible to extract water from the cells in a human body - living or dead. Not for any ghoulish purposes but because I am doing some research for a novel set in the future when there are severe water shortages. How would one go about collecting useable water from the 70% or so bound up in cells? Many thanks.


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #1 on: 08/11/2014 11:04:00 »
Evaporation and condensation is probably the best method to extract water from a corpse as the distillate is fairly pure, but it is energy-intensive, so you might go for mincing and filtration, followed by biological recycling via a conventional sewage plant.

However it isn't going to be a lot of use since you will get at most about 50 liters of water from an adult corpse - about 10 days' survival ration.

You would be better to recycle individual urine and exhalate from living people, as in spacecraft.

Which leads immediately to Sci Fi Standard Plot #15 - capitalist dystopia. The plebs all live in selfcontained recyling units and gradually poison themselves with residual toxins, but the oligarchs get pure water from distilled corpses. Enter the hero....now read on.....
 

Offline PennyB

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #2 on: 08/11/2014 20:24:27 »
Thanks very much indeed for that. You should be a writer....
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #3 on: 08/11/2014 23:18:41 »
The problem with being a scientist is that you spend a lifetime learning to tell a huge story, like the mastery of flight or the end of the universe, in a couple of equations. It saves a lot of paper but doesn't sell many novels.

How about this for a plot: they build a big ship, it hits an iceberg, it sinks. Engineering cockup or blockbuster film? Reading the synopsis certainly saved 3 hours of my life!
 

Offline PennyB

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #4 on: 08/11/2014 23:48:36 »
Not sure about forum etiquette - am I allowed to ask another question? Namely can you point me towards further reading on your first suggestion (evaporation and condensation etc) so I don't keep hassling you? If not many thanks for posting anyway.

PS Having never managed to sit through Titanic either I wouldn't say intolerance of over-dramatic sound tracks and excessive use of off-screen water hoses was confined to scientists....
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #5 on: 09/11/2014 00:11:49 »
No hassle - this is where I go for intelligent conversation when the dog is asleep!

http://www.allaboutwater.org/distillation.html is a useful source of information.
 

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Re: Can you extract water from cells in the human body?
« Reply #5 on: 09/11/2014 00:11:49 »

 

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