When it comes to building, an awful lot of material goes to waste, both at the birth and death of a project. In fact, the construction industry sends millions of tonnes of waste to landfill every year, at a huge cost to itself.

In addition to this, new laws mean that by 2020 70% of all construction and demolition waste in UK must be recycled, while none will be allowed to go to landfill. This, coupled with the cost of waste disposal, has set the construction industry on the hunt for materials that are both good for the environment and good for their bottom lines.

Dr Sam Chapman and his spin-out KENOTEQ think they have the solution to just such a problem.

KENOTEQ’s patent pending ‘K-Briq’ is an unfired brick made of 90% recycled material. It is made using traditional methods and spurns environmentally unfriendly cement. Because the manufacturing process cuts the need to fire the bricks, the cost of gas is eliminated and additional carbon taxes can be avoided.

Sam and his team developed the first iteration of his brick while studying at Heriot-Watt University. The prototype was made nearly exclusively from waste materials and boasted the highest recycled content of anything in the UK.

Originally hailing from the Lake District, Sam relocated to Edinburgh in his final years of school, with a view to following his dad’s footsteps into the world of engineering. A master’s in structural engineering with architectural design, a PhD in carbon assessment of wind power, and a spot as a drummer in Edinburgh’s indie-folk band ‘King Eider’ soon followed. He also found time to become director in a now successful hospitality company that operates two cocktail bars.

Throughout his studies, Sam was on the ICE QUEST sponsorship programme and was partnered with global engineering consultancy, Atkins Ltd. Keen to join his green ethos with his expertise, Sam supported an application for an Innovation Fund from Zero-Waste Scotland, successfully making the leap from engineering student to entrepreneur.

Spinning out from Heriot-Watt University, KENOTEQ specialises in answering the call from the construction trade for sustainable building materials and waste utilisation. In addition to its impressively green manufacturing credentials, the KENOTEQ brick is specially designed to reduce a building’s running costs. With a high ‘thermal mass’, the bricks take a lot of energy to heat up. This means they are perfect for keeping buildings cool and cutting air conditioning bills in summer, and vice versa in winter. The ‘breathable’ nature of the bricks regulates ambient moisture in buildings, regulating humidity and preventing condensation.

Sam is currently focussed on growing KENOTEQ to continue developing sustainable building materials. In 2016, he was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering, giving Sam the support and mentoring needed to evolve his innovation and KENOTEQ into a competitive business. His team are also working with Scottish Enterprise as part of its High Growth Spin-Out Programme, which includes support in the form of £179,000 of grant funding and intensive commercialisation and entrepreneurial assistance.

Enterprise Fellowships provide funding and support to outstanding entrepreneurial engineering researchers from UK universities, incubating their ideas into growing businesses. Fellows receive up to £35,000 a year in salary support and an additional £25,000 for innovation development.

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