Green Tech South West are looking forward to welcoming some of the most innovative pioneers in our region as part of our event for Bristol Tech Festival.
We’re excited to hear from Molly Allington, CEO of Albotherm.
Air conditioning alone accounts for 20% of electricity usage from buildings and 10% of total global electricity usage. To stop this cycle in its tracks, we need to make better use of our natural resources and find more sustainable alternatives to air conditioning.
Molly will take about how she develops paints that are designed to reflect the sun’s rays at high temperatures, reducing solar gain and helping to cool buildings without burning fossil fuels.
Molly will be joining us on Thursday Oct 14th at 12.30pm and we caught up with her ahead of her talk.
Can you tell us more about Albotherm?
Molly: Albotherm was founded officially a year ago by myself and my co-founder Dr Sian Fussell when we realised that the research she was doing could be used to massively reduce carbon emissions associated with cooling buildings and greenhouses.
At the time Sian had been working on a PhD in Responsive Materials at the University of Bristol and we set up Albotherm to develop these materials into coatings that transition from transparent to white as temperatures increase, reflecting away excess heat in hot weather.
At the moment, air conditioning accounts for around 10% of total global electricity usage and is set to triple by 2050 due to global warming so it is essential that we solve this problem now.
How did you come up with the idea?
Molly: The idea originally came from the academic who supervised Sian’s PhD. He had a conservatory at his house and was really frustrated by how hot they get in the summer. When he looked into fitting them with blinds to stop this he was surprised by how expensive they were as they have to be custom fitted to the shape and size of your conservatory.
We then realised the materials Sian was researching could be used to fix this problem if they could be turned into a coating that could be easily sprayed onto a conservatory of any size. From here we started to look into wider applications and realised how big of a need there was in the world for this kind of product.
What are the challenges you’ve faced so far and how are you overcoming them?
Molly: Fundraising has been by far the biggest challenge we have faced. Inevitably no matter how strong your business is you will face a lot of criticism and rejection during the fundraising process which can be really disheartening as a founder. It took a lot of resilience to keep going through this process especially as we were doing it during lockdown but we have definitely grown stronger as a team.
What can people do to support Albotherm?
Molly: I think a simple and yet a very powerful thing people can do is to engage with us on social media. The biggest thing that holds back new companies like ours is not having the right connections or the credibility to make those connections. If our message is shared widely I am sure it will find the right people who will resonate with it.
What has the response been so far to Albotherm?
Molly: We’ve had really some great responses so far, particularly where we’ve spoken to potential customers in the greenhouse industry who have understood the technology and its potential benefit right away.
It is common for greenhouses to shade their crops in summer to avoid them being damaged by overheating and at the moment they achieve this by painting greenhouse roofs with a simple whitewash. This is quite a laborious process which costs a lot of money to do each year as the paints need to be removed at the end of summer. It also blocks some of the light from reaching crops even on cooler summer days.
Our technology has a clear benefit as it reversibly transitions from transparent to white at high temperature, shading crops when they need it to protect from heat stress but maximising light on cooler days. It also saves greenhouses time and money in applying and removing shading as it lasts multiple growing seasons.
What are your plans for Albotherm going forward?
Molly: At the moment we are still heavily focussed on product development but we are looking forward to completing some product trials starting next summer.
From then onwards we are really keen to get our technology out in the world as much as possible. We are excited to start getting feedback from customers, to assess our technology’s impact on carbon emissions and see Albotherm grow.
Thankyou Molly for the chat.
Molly will take the virtual stage at our meetup on Thursday 14th of October at 12.30pm. Head over to the meetup page to RSVP for free. (https://www.meetup.com/GreenTech-South-West/events/279218957/)