Adaptavate secures £500,000 Government funding to continue developing biomaterials of the future.

Adaptavate have been awarded a £500,000 development project co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation agency. This is to further develop techniques to take CO2 from the atmosphere and other CO2 emitting processes, such as lime and cement. The project focusses on locking this into construction products, such as the award winning Breathaboard technology.

‘This is a really exciting project at a pivotal point for Adaptavate. It enables us to grow the team and technical partnerships at a really exciting time in our industry. It affirms Adaptavate and the partner universities as leading the way in CO2 sequestration in building materials and industrial processes – helping us reach ambitious CO2 targets that are being set by governments and industrial bodies”.

Tom Robinson, Founder of Adaptavate

In parallel the project is asking the question; can the waste of these materials be used as soil nutrients for use in agriculture, to grow more crops and bio-materials, completing a circular economy approach to construction bio-materials? Ground up construction waste will be compared to the digestate from Anaerobic Digestion (AD) of the same material. The AD process also generates synthetic gas, predominantly Methane. Here a second and third nutrient loop can be exploited as the Methane created can be burnt to create electricity to run the factory, creating CO, which can sequestered in the curing of new material. This is totally in line with Adaptavate’s purpose: to positively disrupt the material flows in the construction sector.

“Environmentally positive solutions are not one size fits all, and neither are business cases. This project will allow us to scale the next generation of bio-materials though absorbing CO2 from emitting processes all over the world through localised production models. This is a really transformative way of looking at this conservative, vertically integrated industry that is looking for a step change”. 

Jeff Ive, Technical Director at Adaptavate

The project builds on the strong relationships that Adaptavate have built with the University of Bath and Bio composite Development Centre in York.

“Personally, I am really excited to work with Adaptavate as it builds on our track record of working with this Innovative leading SME, realising the potential impact of a previous BBSRC funded project carried out in collaboration with Adaptavate. There is great potential is the development of genuinely low carbon, possibly even carbon neutral building materials for the mainstream industry – this is a real potential game-changing solution and we are excited to be a key part of it.”

Professor Pete Walker, of the University of Bath and Director of BRE Centre of Innovative Construction Materials


Is plaster the new toilet roll?

Demand for building materials and DIY products in lockdown skyrocketed stretching UK supplies and risking supermarket style product restrictions.

Toilet roll, flour, and wall plaster? What do these items all have in common? All have seen a buying surge by the public that’s put huge pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to keep up with demand. At Adaptavate we’ve felt this through a real rise in enquiries about Breathaplasta.

The panic buying of toilet paper at the start of the coronavirus pandemic gave way to a rush on baking ingredients and a flour shortage during lockdown and now a DIY binge that’s stretching UK supplies of cement, plaster, fence panels, paint and power tools, all of which are in huge demand right now as DIY shops report a surge in sales up 250% on last year.

With more than 9 million Britons furloughed during the three months of lockdown, many have turned to much delayed DIY projects to fill their days and have diverted funds they’d otherwise have spent on foreign holidays, meals out, trips to the pub or luxury fashion into home improvements with DIY projects, ranging from mending fences to laying patios, skimming walls, painting and decorating all proving popular. I’m sure we’ve all seen the ‘What we haven’t got…’ signs outside our local B&Q or Homebase, all featuring plaster and plasterboard. It’s become a ‘hot commodity’!  

Last week Kingfisher, which owns the B&Q and Screwfix chains, both deemed essential businesses and allowed to remain open throughout the coronavirus lockdown, said they were hiring up to 2,000 temporary workers after online sales soared by more than 200% in April and May.

“I wouldn’t quite say plaster is the toilet roll of the building materials industry, but it’s probably not far off,” said John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF). “The availability issues are either in builders’ merchants or DIY stores and there has been a big shortage of plaster as well as issues around bagged cement – it’s the products purchased by consumers and tradesmen, so it’s those who buy smaller quantities who are worst affected.”

“We are also seeing excessive demand for external materials like fence posts and panels, exterior paint and garden sleepers,” said Newcomb. “There is this extreme demand from consumers and now, as tradesmen start to return to work, they’re adding to that.”

Plaster factories have not been able to keep up with the extra demand, even though some businesses are working overtime, drawing parallels with the flour shortage that occurred earlier this year created by the lockdown baking craze.

This is why we’ve been called on so much as people are looking to make the change from standard gypsum plaster to Breathaplasta which is not only better for our buildings and healthier, but is mixed and installed in a similar way to regular plaster making the transition from gypsum easy. A versatile product Breathaplasta gives multiple health benefits in terms of reducing problems with condensation and mould, absorbing pollutants and helping to save energy by improving insulation.

“I guess the best thing about it at the moment is that you can actually buy it!” said Tom, our founder. “We managed to get our manufacturing and supply chain up and running with safe social distancing protocols straight after lockdown – that is one of the benefits of being a smaller business, we can quickly react to changing situations around us and adapt much faster than bigger companies.”

Back in March supermarkets began rationing certain items amid the initial coronavirus panic and basic items such as toilet paper, pasta, wipes and soap were all restricted as consumers emptied shelves across the country. So, will we see something similar in the DIY world? It’s unlikely that we’ll see any of the same restrictions applied to building materials and DIY items as much of the initial panic around the coronavirus has settled down somewhat and as building materials are not considered essential items in the same way as groceries and other supermarket essentials. 

The work of housebuilders and major contractors has mostly avoided disruption, said Newcomb, who added that plaster supplies and other building materials were being prioritised for essential projects, particularly within the NHS. The most likely outcome is that product supply will continue to fall short of demand in the short-medium term and that we’ll see an increase in the use of new and different brands to the mainstream construction products until supply levels normalise towards the end of the summer, perhaps late August or early September 2020.

At Adaptavate, whilst the last 4 months have been incredibly challenging, we’ve been happy to support the more traditional merchants and contractors to help keep their projects on track by supporting them in making the switch from gypsum plaster to healthier, more ecological products such as our Breathaplasta. We’ll continue to help ease the pressure on the supply chain and work around the current constraints on the construction industry. As a small business, we hope that the customers we’ve gained through this challenging time will stick with us into the future and help catalyse the transition to healthier building products that are better for people, buildings and the planet. It has been such a shift in industry, society and ecological impact on our planet in the last 4 months and the time really is now to make the transition to a better way of living and working. Or in the government’s words ‘building back better’! We’d love to have you by our side – thanks for the support!

Better cleaner Innovation Adaptavate

Collaboration is key to unlocking the potential of bio-based building materials

Our exciting recent collaboration brings Breathaboard one step closer to global manufacture and distribution as the business teams up with the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) – a programme partnered with the University of Bath and funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The STBAH programme provides business acceleration and research collaboration with the University of Bath for innovative companies involved in low carbon products and services. We are excited about the potential outcomes from this collaboration both from technical and commercial perspectives. Past collaboration with the University of Bath was pivotal to Adaptavate launching our first product innovation – Breathaplasta – our internal wall plaster that is highly breathable, reduces condensation and mould growth and absorbs indoor air pollutants.

The collaboration with the STBAH programme has already enabled access to bespoke business consultancy support that’s helped to bring the company’s innovative bio-based Breathaboard one step closer to market. The consultancy is now ongoing as we develop a platform for licensing our game changing technology globally.

The programme has also helped to facilitate collaborative research with the University of Bath into the feasibility of a self-healing wall plaster using specialised bacteria. This exciting novel application of this emerging bio-technology has proven promising and may have applications in a range of built environment products we are looking to develop in the future.

Discussing the STBAH business support and research collaboration, Jeff Ive, Adaptavate Technical Director said:

The STBAH programme has been extremely helpful to Adaptavate, both from technical and commercial perspectives. The free business support has already been instrumental to Adaptavate as the company grows through a pivotal stage of securing initial license partners for our core technology and raising the necessary capital. For us, the links with the University of Bath have also been invaluable and we’re delighted to continue to collaborate with them on this research project and on other project developments we have in the pipeline”.

To read the article in full please follow this link to the STBAH website.


Adaptavate invited to speak at Futurebuild 2019

This years Futurebuild saw a new owner, a new look and a fresh take on the future construction industry. We are only a small startup, but we were honoured to be asked to speak at the UK’s largest Future building show – for being recognised for the fresh way we approach the industry.

We were invited to speak on 2 occasions for this years Futurebuild. On Tuesday, Tom spoke about how we are creating mainstreamable natural material alternatives to the current products. He shared how our products are designed to be ‘drop-in’ alternatives so that no re-skilling is needed on site or by specifiers and he also shared how our processes will enable mainstream production to be scaleable and at low running cost. He also was able to present some case studies from recently completed projects where healthy material choices were paramount for the client.

Jason, our commercial director was invited by LWARB to speak on the ‘Waste Stage’ about our vision for the Circular Economy within the construction material industry. He shared how we are re-thinking the feedstocks we make materials from and how we use waste streams from the agricultural industry to incorporate into high performing products. The audience were particularly interested that the waste streams from our products are compostable and could be used to help provide nutrients to soils to grow more material.

We want to thank LWARB and NBUK for inviting us to speak and being part of what were really engaging sessions. It is always great to get questions at the end of panel discussions and share different perspectives!


Germany to phase out coal by 2038 leaves plasterboard industry with big questions.

Germany have relied on coal as a significant source of their power source for many years now making up 45% of its electricity generation from hard coal and lignite. However earlier this year, the German government have taken a decision to put in place a phase out timeline to stop coal production by 2038 and to significantly increase its usage of renewables.

Whilst this is a great step in the right direction for the environmental impact of the German power industry, it will have some knock-on effects. Principally, for Adaptavate, it has an effect on the plasterboard production industry. This is due to Flue Gas De-sulphurisation (FGD) gypsum which is a by-product of the coal power industry and is widely used as a feedstock for gypsum plasterboard and plaster. Evidently, with a reduction in coal power plants, there is a knock on issue.

In Germany, 6.8 million tons of FGD gypsum was produced in 2014, most of it in lignite coal plants. In addition, 4.5 million tons of natural gypsum and anhydrides (another calcium compound) are produced in quarries annually. Most of the 11.3 million tons of gypsum is used in the building sector for building products such as plasterboard (link). This reduction in FGD leaves an industry facing a significant feedstock fragility issue as plasterboard is the second most wildly used building material globally.

Even if the reduction of supply of byproducts from power plants, such as hard coal flue ash and FGD gypsum, does not lead to a dramatic shortfall in supply, the sector – and politicians – face the task of investigating the sustainability of possible solutions and supporting their rollout. This report highlights the challenges and opportunities, written by the German Advisory Council of the Environment.

There are ways that this shortfall may be managed and there is a 19 year lead time, but the construction material industry has traditionally been a slow to act industry. Some of the challenges are with the supply chain are technical and ‘social’ and based on industry professional awareness and change of behaviour. This doesn’t happen overnight and the big question is – can the industry react in the timeframe required?

This places Adaptavate’s Breathaboard in a strong position as this rethinks the material flows in this sector, as it uses renewable feedstocks and is totally detached from gypsum as a feedstock, yet is a drop-in alternative to plasterboard. In addition, our process is scaleable and doesn’t use any high temperatures, making it flexible, low-energy and low-carbon.

Due this anticipated challenge in the industry, we are actively searching for more production partners across Europe and would be interested to hear from you if you would be interested in finding out more about our products and partnerships. We can see from Germany’s recent change in energy strategy that the time is right to be bringing products like Breathaboard to the market.


Adaptavate launch in Holland!

It’s been an exciting week for Adaptavate and for Breathaplasta as we launch in Holland! Tom, our founder and MD flew out to meet our Dutch partner, Richard De La Roy of Eco-Makelaar. Together they launched the product to an audience of architects, installers and construction industry professionals at the Bio Treat Centre in Venlo, a city in the southeast of the Netherlands.


Eco-Makelaar is a building materials supplier that is looking to the future. They are a company that
shares a similar vision to Adaptavate and are driven by the need for us to create healthier and more
sustainable living and working spaces. Eco-Makelaar is guided by the cradle to cradle principle and
recognises the huge positive impact we can all have on our health and the environment by smarter
sourcing of our building materials. Adaptavate chose to work with Richard as he is well connected in
the Benelux region and is a great partner to being Breathaplasta to this market.

Tom said “it is a market we have been assessing for the last 6-9 months and the Benelux region are
really progressive in healthy, energy efficient buildings. They place a real value on health of people
with low carbon and energy efficiency high on their policy agenda. This makes a great market for us
to enter and we are looking forward to working with Richard. There are some really great projects in
the pipeline that will showcase what is possible with biomaterials!”

Adaptavate launch Breathaplasta in Holland at the Bio Treat Centre



Sustainable Design, Inspiring Workspaces

As part of London Design Week Adaptavate were invited to speak at an event held at Sustainable Bankside entitled Sustainable Design, Inspiring Workspaces – an evening of stimulating talks on the future of suitable design and the evolution of the flexible workplace.

Sustainable Bankside is the latest venture by Sustainable Workspaces CIC – a company that’s established the largest collocated community of sustainable startups in Europe with an abundance of innovation and groundbreaking design taking place across their sites. Breathaplasta has been used extensively throughout their office renovations as part of their drive to meet the very highest standards in health, wellbeing and sustainability.

The event, which took place on Wednesday 19th September, featured inspiring debate on sustainable construction and materials innovation, examining how the office spaces of the future might look, feel and function.

Joining hosts Sustainable Workspaces were an eclectic mix of inspirational start-ups as well as more established names like Landsec, the largest property company in the UK. Landsec embedded their innovation team at Sustainable Bankside and have built labs within the space to look at the future of construction.

Also speaking at the event were Liam Spencer of Thirdway Architecture, Dr Aidan Bell of Envirobuild, Tara Button of BuyMeOnce, Sabrina Palme of Gartenzwerg Technologies and Ehab Sayed, Founder and Director of Innovation at Biohm, a company also innovating in bio-based construction materials.

Adaptavate Founder, Tom Robinson took to the stage to present ‘the future of building materials: bio, beautiful and bloody good performing’ to highlight how bio-based materials have the ability to transform construction and bring about healthier and more sustainable spaces.

Speaking after the event, Tom said;

“It was really great to be part of a dynamic event where big companies and small companies alike are challenging the status quo and thinking creatively about how the office spaces of the future might look, feel and function with better, higher performing and more sustainable materials”.


TedX Talk

TedX Talk

BAFTA and Emmy-nominated director and producer Steve Barron describes his transition from film to farming – Steve has established Margent Farm to explore the ability of industrial hemp to revolutionise construction. Steve’s also a convert to Breathaplasta using it in his pre-fabricated hempcrete panel build at the farm and using some of his hemp particles in it in a unique collaboration. Listen out for our mention around 12:45 minutes 🙂

Follow the link below to YouTube…

What Hempen Homespuns Have We Swaggering Here? | Steve Barron | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

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