A startup using surplus feathers to offer a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics and other harmful materials has secured a £150,000 investment from British Design Fund.

Aeropowder, based in London, will now launch its thermal packaging product PluumoPlus, which is designed for the life sciences industry and cold chain logistics.

Traditionally, plastic materials, such as expanded polystyrene, have been relied upon for the storage and movement of temperature-sensitive goods. Aeropowder’s patented solution is able to maintain an internal temperature of between 2-8°C for over 72 hours, even when external temperatures average 30°C for the period.

Co-founder and biologist, Dr Ryan Robinson, first began working on the innovation while completing his PhD at Imperial College London. He joined a research project exploring novel uses for feathers that harness their natural properties, while reducing waste. 

An estimated three million tons of waste feathers are generated every year in Europe alone, which are either incinerated or turned into low-grade animal feed.

“The world needs more novel materials, processes and solutions to combat the pressing environmental and economic challenges that we face,” he said. 

“Looking at natural ecosystems for inspiration, which inherently are more sustainable and resilient, it’s clear that concepts such as the circular economy have a massive role to play – essentially, how we minimise or repurpose waste streams in more productive ways.

B Corp TechForGood launches UK operations

“The investment from the British Design Fund is going to be instrumental in our ability to manufacture our first units of PluumoPlus and get them into the hands of our existing waiting list, which includes some of the largest pharmaceutical and life science logistics companies in the world. 

“The next 12 months will see us focused on optimising production and further product development, based on client demand”.

Nature-inspired solutions form the core of Aeropowder’s vision, with future product developments set to include acoustic panels and other building insulation materials. The company’s second patent focuses on oil absorption materials, designed to help clean up environmental spillages without resorting to plastic foams.

Damon Bonser, CEO at the British Design Fund, said: “Aeropowder ticks all the boxes for us. They are a creative and ambitious team, developing an innovative range of products that have the potential to make a positive impact across the world. 

“Innovations such as this, which support the transition to sustainable materials, are so important and we look forward to working closely with the team to help bring their ideas forward.”

GenAI firm raises £2m to accelerate deaf accessibility