A CLEAN technology business incubated at Heriot-Watt University is on the cusp of launching a commercialisation project that will ultimately see its eco-friendly brick brought to market.

Kenoteq, which was set up by Sam Chapman and Gabriela Medero, has prototyped an unfired brick that is made almost entirely from demolition and construction waste, and will begin small-scale production this year using £180,000 of funding received as part of the first phase of Scottish Enterprise’s high-growth spin-out programme.

“We have funding from Scottish Enterprise and now we are looking at commercialisation and looking at the route to the market,” Ms Medero said.

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Mr Chapman said the initial pilot is due to take place at Hamilton Waste & Recycling using machinery rented from the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, with the longer-term aim being to roll out production to other waste recycling sites.

“Hamilton Waste & Recycling have a problem at the moment with all this waste but for our product this is the solution,” he said. “We are taking the waste from construction demolition and transforming it into building materials.

“Our model will be to work with other waste facilities as they have space and the waste materials.”

Mr Chapman said this way of working would allow the business to “stick with our circular economy approach”, with Ms Medero noting that a particular benefit would be that bricks could be produced all over Scotland rather than having to be transported from further afield.

“At the moment the production of bricks is limited to the location of where the clay can be produced,” she said. “In the last year 85 per cent of bricks used in Scotland were imported from England or Europe.”

Although the company’s bricks have so far only been tested in the lab, Ms Medero said part of the Hamilton project will be to use them to construct something large enough for “clients to see how they react to the Scottish weather”.

If the pilot is a success Kenoteq will receive up to £400,000 of additional funding from Scottish Enterprise to fully commercialise the business, at which point it will spin out from Heriot-Watt.

“This fits well with our plan,” Ms Medero said.

“Heriot-Watt has been incredibly supportive but also we are ready to have our route to the market well defined.”

When it moves into the third stage of the high-growth programme, the investment phase, the business will be eligible to receive a further £400,000 from the government’s economic development agency.

The pilot project is the culmination of a decade’s worth of research that began with Ms Medero questioning the sustainability of the building sector.

“I started to do research in this area 10 years ago,” she said. “It was very much looking at how much waste is produced in the construction industry but at the same time how much energy is required to produce building materials and how sustainable the whole process is.

“With that in mind I started looking at different materials and five years ago started discussions with a recycling company here in Scotland that had so much waste coming to them but there was no demand for it.”

While eco-friendly bricks are the main focus for Kenoteq at the moment, Ms Medero said that if the Hamilton pilot is a success the business has further products it is keen to develop.

“We want to enter the market with our bricks but we also have in line key niche market products,” she said.

“Our plan is not going to be one product. We will have a portfolio of unique and innovative building materials.

“Legislation is changing and waste that used to be sent to landfill will not be allowed to any more. Buildings must have a percentage of recycled materials in them and there will also be higher taxes for energy consumption. We are taking all this into consideration.”