NASA awards $750,000 contract to startup for ‘smart’ color-changing air filters for space suits

Colorfil smart filters let users know when they are working (pink) and when they’re spent (yellow) with an intuitive, unambiguous color change.Provided by Seronix

Serionix, a startup based on a technology created at the U. of I. and incubated at the EnterpriseWorks accelerator at Illinois, 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, based in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Park, creates high-performance filters based on a proprietary adsorptive coating technology called Colorfil, which changes colors as it removes toxic chemicals and odors from air and kills viruses, bacteria and mold. Through a vibrant color change, the filter lets users know when it is working and when it isn’t.

NASA funds will be used to evaluate Colorfil technology for incorporation into the next generation of spacesuits and the Personal Life Support System, 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. Serionix’s filters are also effective against pet, mildew and cooking odors, and also work in high-tech semiconductor chip manufacturing.

NASA awards $750,000 contract to startup for ‘smart’ color-changing air filters for space suits
The Serionix team stands outside their facilities in the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Provided by Serionix

James Langer, Serionix’s president, said the funding will indirectly support the launch of consumer products based on the same core technology. “For the most part, 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 Small Business Innovation Research program began in June 2016, and overlapped with the successful beta launch of its Colorfil air purifier and heating, ventilation and air conditioning filters. In this second phase, Serionix will develop a demonstration unit for NASA’s spacesuit life support system. For more information, visit this NASA webpage.

Source: News@Illinois.Edu