NASA Developing Air Filters That Change Color When Dirty
Poor indoor air quality is widely associated with significant negative health impacts, but it's hard to know if an air filter is actually working.
NASA has funded development of air filter that change color as they remove toxic materials from the air. NASA plans to use the technology in space suits, but it can be applied to air filters for homes and commercial buildings.
Serionix, a startup changing the way we look at air, received a $750,000 contract from NASA to fund continued development of filters to remove toxic gases from next-generation spacesuit life support systems. The same technology is on its way into consumer products expected to launch within the year.
Serionix created high-performance filters based on a proprietary adsorptive coating technology called ColorfilTM, which changes colors as it removes toxic chemicals and odors from air, while killing viruses, bacteria, and mold. Based on preliminary testing, Colorfil filters effectively absorb pet odors. Through an intuitive, vibrant color change, Colorfil lets users know when the filters are working—and when they aren't.
NASA awarded funding to evaluate Colorfil technology for incorporation into the next generation of spacesuit and Personal Life Support System (PLSS), which is used during spacewalks to keep astronauts safe, healthy, and comfortable. The PLSS requires ultra-high performance air filtration to eliminate toxic chemicals such as ammonia and formaldehyde. This makes Serionix's color-changing air filters—built as a surprisingly effective antidote to cat-urine and other pet-related odors—a perfect fit.
"We are excited for the opportunity to work with NASA to send our Colorfil technology into space!" James Langer, Serionix's President, said.
"What's truly exciting, however, is how the funding will indirectly support launch of consumer products using the same core technology," Langer continued. "Consumers today have almost no visibility on what filters actually do for them—making purchasing decisions difficult, and making it nearly impossible to determine when it's time for replacement. With Colorfil, we are looking to change that."
The first phase of Serionix's project with the NASA SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program began in June of 2016, and overlapped with the successful beta launch of their Colorfil air purifier and HVAC filters. In this second phase, Serionix will develop a demonstration unit suitable for incorporation into NASA's spacesuit life support system. In the meantime, they will leverage partnerships with leading industrial players to launch products in residential, automotive, commercial, and high-end industrial applications.
Read more about indoor air quality.