University spinout purifies indoor air with cellulose-based material, replacing activated carbon
New seed funding will help Adsorbi to improve air quality without the use of fossil fuels.
12 Sep 2023

Indoor air quality is a much larger issue than currently understood. According to World Health Organization, indoor air pollution killed more than 3 million people in 2020 and asthma, heart disease, and lung cancers, can all be caused by bad air quality. As people in industrialised nations spend up to 80–90% of their time indoors, and many businesses rely on top indoor air quality, maintaining air quality is crucial.

Founded by a team consisting of researchers and seasoned business developers last year, Adsorbi is a spinout from Chalmers University of Technology based in Gothenburg. The startup, co-founder and CEO Hanna Johansson explains, has invented a new wood-based material that can capture high amounts of hazardous pollutants.

— We want to enable clean and healthy air in indoor environments while lowering the excessive amounts of material used to clean air today. You can find our materials in air filters, removing the most dangerous pollutants, she explains.

What challenges did you face when developing it?

— Working with the production process and realizing how critical it is to succeed. It is not enough to have an innovative and high-performing material; the production techniques we use determines how scalable our product is. We understood this early and have put a lot of work into how we will scale our production process in the future.

Adsorbi’s patented material is made from wood, has a low environmental impact and long product lifetime, and is excellent at capturing and storing air pollutants and decreasing odours. The current industry standard for air purification is activated carbon, which has many downsides, not the least the fact that it’s made from coal or coconut shells. It also has a short life cycle, is hardly customisable, and performs poorly in removing health hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As governments are rolling out stricter regulations on air quality, businesses are in a race to find new solutions.


Adsorbi’s material answers this need, as it is flexible, has a longer lifetime, and is more energy efficient. Unlike activated carbon, it doesn’t release any VOCs back into the air. The material is bio-based, its original raw material is sustainably harvested from the Nordic forests, and it has a wide range of applications. A significant market where it can remove activated carbon is the odour removal industry for shoes, bags, and cars — making these products more hygienic and prolonging their lifecycle. So, it’s not a surprise that Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring, looking to invest in innovations to replace fossil-based materials and chemicals in everyday products, saw Adsorbi as a great addition to its wood-based innovation portfolio. The EUR 360,000 in seed funding also comes from Chalmers Ventures and Jovitech Invest.

— Now we have a dream team of investors who understand deep tech, material startups, as well as novel usage cases for cellulose. Our patented material can be used wherever air pollutants are a problem — also in museums to protect works of art. This means we can tackle several significant markets with one unique material, says Johansson.

— Adsorbi has a diverse and solid research background and business-minded founding team. It is also working on a product made out of pulp, which makes it of particular interest for Metsä Group, says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring.

Hanna Johansson, what’s next?

— In parallel with continued product development, we are planning to launch our first products during the year. Our first application area is art conservation, where we will help museums protect artworks against air pollution. The second one is a project with a sports equipment company, where we will launch bags that remove odours and keep bags and shoes fresh longer.