Research Foundation News

February 14, 2019

Innovative bio-based air filter could transform air filtration, possibly reduce airborne allergens indoors

Huang filter A man changes an air filter in a furnace. Andrew Huang, a graduate student in the Purdue University School of Industrial Engineering, has developed a novel soybean filter alternative that removes specific particulates from the air. (Stock photo) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The World Health Organization estimates that 90 percent of people breathe polluted air, which causes 7 million premature deaths each year. That’s why Ongenia LLC, a Purdue-affiliated startup, is developing a bio-material alternative to standard heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units’ air filters.

Typical HVAC units control heat and air supply as well as ventilation in indoor spaces to achieve the desired room temperature and humidity. The units also include filters of polyester or fiberglass that remove large particles out of the air. Common air pollutants include dust, smoke and dirt, which can affect both indoor and outdoor air quality.

However, Andrew Huang, a graduate student in the School of Industrial Engineering, has developed a novel bio-based filter alternative that addresses issues of sustainability, health and lower expenses that are desired in the HVAC industry.

“Our filter looks and acts like a typical air filter that fits into HVAC units,” Huang said. “However, certain biological properties of our filter allow air to pass through while filtering out specific particulates.”

He founded Ongenia LLC to commercialize this technology, which is licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

Huang began developing the filter during his participation in the 2017 Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition, which asked students to find and create innovative soybean-based technology. This air filter alternative, originally based on soybean material, helped Huang and his team, FiltraSoy, win top honors and the People’s Choice award at the competition.

Huang ongenia Andrew Huang, a graduate student in the Purdue University School of Industrial Engineering, has founded Ongenia LLC to bring a new type of soybean-based HVAC filter to market. The novel filter removes fine particles out of the air and could improve indoor air quality and reduce airborne allergens. (Purdue Research Foundation image/Hope Sale) Download image

Later in 2017, Huang also pitched his business model at the Purdue Ag-celerator and received $55,000 in funding to advance his startup. He said he hopes a larger air ventilation company will sublicense this innovative filter from Ongenia.

“We believe our filters can help reduce in-home allergens and improve indoor air quality,” Huang said. “Biological materials can have many brilliant features, including being a renewable resource and possibly having improved fire resistance.”

Currently, the startup is allocating funds to begin technical feasibility studies with the bio-based air filter and build a proof-of-concept prototype.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at

Writer: Kelsey Henry, 765-588-3342,

Purdue Research Foundation Contact: Tom Coyne, 765-558-1044,

Source: Andrew Huang,

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