USA: A colour-changing air filter technology currently being evaluated by NASA could have commercial benefits in the fight against poor indoor air quality.

Serionix, an Illinois-based startup company, creates high performance filters based on a proprietary adsorptive coating technology called Colorfil. This changes colour as it removes toxic chemicals and odours from air, while killing viruses, bacteria, and mould. The colour change lets users know when the filters are working—and when they aren’t – by changing colour from pink to yellow.

Originated from work conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011, the filtration technology that has received awards of over $3m from the US Army, the National Science Foundation and NASA.

The latest $750,000 contract from NASA will evaluate Colorfil technology for incorporation into the next generation of spacesuit and the life support systems used during spacewalks. The life support systems require ultra-high performance air filtration to eliminate toxic chemicals such as ammonia and formaldehyde.

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with NASA to send our Colorfil technology into space,” said James Langer, Serionix’s president. “What’s truly exciting, however, is how the funding will indirectly support launch of consumer products using the same core technology. 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.”