The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funding the continued development of filters to remove toxic gases from next-generation spacesuit life support systems.

A $US750,000 grant has been made available to Serionix Incorporated, a start-up which creates high-performance filters based on a proprietary adsorptive coating technology called Colorfil.

The filters change colour as it removes toxic chemicals and odours from the air, while killing viruses, bacteria and mould.

Through an intuitive, vibrant colour change, Colorfil lets users know when the filters are working (pink) and when they aren’t (yellow).

NASA has awarded funding to evaluate Colorfil technology for incorporation into its 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.
Serionix president, James Langer, said the funding will indirectly support the launch of commercial products using the same core technology.

The first phase of Serionix’s project with NASA began last year with the successful beta launch of the 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.

Growing concerns over Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in buildings, a rise in green construction and efficient maintenance, are the key trends driving the global HVAC air filter market.

Technavio’s latest market research report provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the air filter market from 2016-2020.

Technavio lead analyst, Anju Ajaykumar, said increased construction activities and the growing demand for air filter replacements in developed countries such as the US and the UK are the key market drivers.

He said recent advances in construction materials have resulted in the use of more synthetics and composites, which adversely affect IAQ.

Poor IAQ has led to health issues such as sick building syndrome, building-related illnesses, and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or environmental illness.

“These factors have resulted in the framing of new guidelines and regulations for commercial buildings, which has accelerated the demand for efficient air filters in HVAC systems used in commercial buildings,” Ajaykumar said.

“In addition, the growth in construction activities in the US and the massive resurgence in urban infrastructure construction activities in APAC will fuel the growth of air filters.

Worldwide, the construction industry is pursuing energy efficiency. Ajaykumar said the commercial sector is increasingly adopting green systems that promote building of a healthy and productive environment, increase efficiency, and decrease the adverse impact on the surroundings. Thus, these systems earn LEED certification or Energy Star designation.

“Various green building associations and councils are further pushing the demand for efficient air filtration to maintain IAQ and reduce emissions,” he said.

“Air filters help in providing clean air, which protects the HVAC equipment and minimizes energy consumption. Therefore, efficient HVAC air filters help in making the buildings more environmentally sustainable to meet rating system criteria like LEED.”

Ajaykumar said the effective maintenance of HVAC systems can reduce energy costs by five to 40 per cent.

He said HVAC systems have more than 100 components that include air filters.

“Any error in these components can significantly degrade energy performance and efficiency of the system,” Ajaykumar said.

“HVAC components like air filters require regular maintenance to ensure optimum performance and capture efficiency degradation.

“Companies mostly perform reactive maintenance of building HVAC systems, though studies have revealed that regular maintenance can reduce energy consumption and costs, and improve equipment life and uptime. Therefore, HVAC systems require preventive or predictive maintenance.”

Commercial air filtration companies now have a uniform standard with the implementation of ISO 16890 in December 2016.

The universal standard creates four classes or divisions of particulates against which all commercial air filters will be tested: PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and ISO coarse, which refers to particulates such as sand and hair.