Germ-killing air filters using ‘green coating’ for ACs and air purifiers

The difference in microbial growth between AIRTH’s filter and a normal filter

IISc scientists have developed air filters that are effective against air pollutants and invisible germs in collaboration with AIRTH, a startup incubated at IIT Kanpur. The team includes faculty members Suryasarathi Bose and Kaushik Chatterjee at the Department of Materials Engineering, IISc, and Ravi Kaushik, Founder, AIRTH.

Air pollution can have harmful effects on human health, and has been linked to several health conditions, including anxiety, heart and lung-related diseases, organ damage, and more. Air filters are devices made of porous materials that trap dust, particles and microbes in the air. When used continuously, these air filters become a breeding ground for the captured germs. The growth of these germs reduces the life of the filters and can infect people in the vicinity.

To address this issue, the team developed an air filter that destroys microbes using a patent-filed technology that involves using specific ingredients commonly found in green tea. These ‘green’ ingredients were found to rupture the germ cells by binding to specific sites along the cell walls. The team tested the antimicrobial air filters in an NABL-accredited lab and found that the filter was 99.24% efficient and could deactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well.

The team has already deployed the filters in ACs, air purifiers, and central air conditioners, and is currently supplying them to commercial buildings, hospitals, diagnostic labs, and residences. The team believes that replacing the conventional germ-breeding filters with the AIRTH air filter (which has germ-destroying capabilities) can play an important role in our fight against air pollution and curb the spread of diseases like COVID-19, including new variants.

The research was supported by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. In a recent event inaugurated by the Prime Minister to mark 10 years of BIRAC, the innovation was selected for product launch as part of ‘75 Biotech Startup Products in the 75th Year of Independence’.

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