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How we turned a massive failure into a climate solution that could cut global emissions by 500 megatons

What if we told you there was an invention that could cut massive amounts of CO2 emissions, while at the same reducing your facility’s heating costs by 90%.
It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. The solution is called Lepido, and it is now being deployed by big food chains, industrial production sites, and small restaurants in several countries.
“We have created an economic incentive to help save the planet”, says Nils Lekeberg and Jesper Wirén, founders of Enjay Systems.
“We have created an economic incentive to help save the planet”, says Nils Lekeberg and Jesper Wirén, founders of Enjay Systems.

But let’s take it from the start, since this whole project is actually a result of a massive failure.
In the early 2000’s, our two founders, Jesper Wirén and Nils Lekeberg, were working with UV technology to clean ventilation ducts in restaurants and industrial kitchens. The main advantage of their product was that it could substantially reduce the build-up of grease layers inside the ventilation ducts of restaurants, which was very much sought-after by customers, since these duvets are major fire hazards. 
Business was good, and the company expanded it sales to markets in Europe, the Middle-East and the US. 
But although most customers seemed to be happy with the product, they always came back with the same question: ”Could your product also be used to make heat recovery possible in these environments?”
This might need a bit of explanation. In office and residential buildings where the air is clean, heat energy is often recovered and used to preheat the incoming air, thereby saving a lot of energy and money. But in buildings where the air is polluted – like in kitchens and restaurants, bakeries, laundries, chemical processes and industrial buildings – the hot air goes straight out, without any energy recovery. Why? Because there hasn't been a solution available that could recover energy from polluted exhaust air. It was seen as a problem impossible to fix. 
Exhaust heat from restaurants and the processing industry is most often seen as waste and not a resource.
Exhaust heat from restaurants and the processing industry is most often seen as waste and not a resource.

So for five years, every time Jesper and Nils were asked that question, they responded “no”. Then they started rethinking their reply. 
”There was a problem that needed to be fixed, and we already had the customers willing to invest in a solution, so we thought: Why not try to crack this nut?”, remembers Jesper Wirén, CEO and co-founder of Enjay.
They started experimenting with a new and more effective filter that could clean the polluted air in difficult environments like restaurant kitchens. After scanning the market, consulting knowledgeable people, and spending a lot of time and money working on a prototype based on condensing power techniques, it was finally time to test the product. The result was … not so good.
”We had constructed the worst filter in the whole world. It did not soak up any grease, whatsoever”, says Jesper.
After using a fair share of coarse language and banging their heads to the walls, Jesper and Nils went back to look at the prototype again. But this time from a different perspective. The product had in fact achieved something. It had managed to heat the incoming water by 7 degrees.
”It suddenly dawned on us that we had actually constructed a heat exchanger to which the fat did not stick”, says Jesper.
Which happened to be exactly what their customers had been asking for, for the past five years. And so it was back to the lab again, to further work on what they no longer regarded as a filter, but as an energy recovery unit for ventilation systems in restaurants.
”We spent a lot of time and effort balancing thermodynamics and aerodynamics, to make the unit as efficient as possible”, says Jesper.
Three years later, the first version of the Lepido was ready to be tested. And this time, the prototype worked great. The Lepido was not only making energy recovery in harsh environments possible. It was also making it profitable.
https://youtu.be/FFwV2YLygyM?autoplay=0&rel=0


A restaurant that installs the Lepio can save an average of 85,000 kWh per year, or up to 90% of the heating cost. For the average European restaurant, this will also reduce its annual CO2 emissions by more than 30 metric tons. 
From a larger perspective, the climate-saving potential is enormous. Buildings consume about 30 percent of all energy used annually in the world. About 40 percent of all buildings in the world is home to some sort of process industry, which means the exhaust heat in those millions of buildings is currently considered waste. To give an example: If our solution was to be deployed in 50 % of all restaurants in Northern Europe, it would save 25 TWh of energy. That’s equivalent to around half of all the natural gas that Germany imported from Russia last year.
”We sometimes say that our solution could cut carbon emissions by 500 megatons, but that’s only counting the restaurants of the world. Then you have all the rest of the processing industry”, says Jesper. The covid pandemic made Enjays business progress slow at first, but today our solution is used by big fast-food chains in Scandinavia, such as Burger King, Max Burgers, and ChopChop. We are now also expanding into the UK and the Baltic region.
Enjay's Lepido is a multi-awarded heat exchanger for polluted exhaust air.
Enjay's Lepido is a multi-awarded heat exchanger for polluted exhaust air.

Our first large-scale industrial project was when we co-designed the ventilation system for a huge pancake factory for Lantmännen, Northern Europe's leader in agriculture, machinery, bioenergy and food products. This facility alone saves 1,5 million SEK (€133,000) per year in heating costs thanks to the heat recovery made possible by Lepido. 
”We are now in a position where we get several new inquiries every week”, says Jesper.
We are also happy about our new partnership with We Don’t Have Time. This was a result of us joining – and winning – Dragonfly’s Den, a pitching contest for climate solutions, organized by We Don’t Have Time during the UN climate conference COP27 in November last year.
Image of post in post detailed view

Watch Nils Lekeberg, co-founder and vice president of Enjay making his pitch at Dragonfly’s Den during COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
”Those kinds of recognitions mean more than one might think for a small green tech startup like ourselves. It gives us exposure and credibility, and suddenly the phone starts ringing. 100 percent of the leads we get comes from communication”, says Jesper.
We plan to use our partnership with We Don’t Have Time to spread the knowledge about our technology. The more people that know about us, the faster we can stop the ongoing waste of energy currently going on. It’s also a great platform to showcase our end users such as restaurants, laundries and production facilities. They deserve some climate love as they are the first ones to choose to invest and believe in our solution.

ABOUT ENJAY
  • Enjay is a Swedish Greentech company specializing in energy efficiency in hostile environments. 
  • Enjay’s first innovation, Lepido, is a heavy-duty heat exchanger for polluted exhaust air. It makes energy recovery in impossible environments not only possible but also profitable.
  • The Lepido heat exchanger has received numerous awards and acknowledgements, such as the Horecava Innovation award 2022, Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge 2020 (where we finished second), Solar Impulse Efficient Solution 2020 and WWF Climate Solver 2018. 
  • Enjay Systems is aiming for a turnover of ten million SEK for 2023 (around €900,000). The goal is to double this for 2024, and again for 2025.
  • Ansgar Kaup

    70 w

    Supergenious

    1
    • Enjay Systems

      68 w

      @ansgar_kaup Thank you!

    • Sarah Chabane

      70 w

      Such a promising solution for restaurants and the industry! It's great to read that it's already being used by big chains like Max or Burger King and making an impact. Do you have data from them that you could share?

      1
      • Enjay Systems

        68 w

        @sarah_chabane Hi Sarah. We are not allowed to share specific project data. But as many restaurants uses the same system we can share some generic data: So the average energy recover per restaurant is about 60.000 -100.000 kWh /year. The CO2e for Europe is about 250 g CO2/ kWh, so the annual decrease in CO2 per restaurant is about 15-30 tonnes/year. OK?

      • Dawn Stephens

        70 w

        Good news! Hope it is used asap!

        1
        • Enjay Systems

          68 w

          @dawn_stephens Hi Dawn, It sure is. We have installations up and running on 8 european markets.

        • Harrison wambui

          70 w

          We are leading somewhere

          1
          • Patrick Kiash

            70 w

            Very inspiring

            1
          • Mc Kaka Official🇰🇪

            70 w

            This Is great

            1
          • Marine Stephan

            70 w

            wow this is such a great innovation and has a cool story behind it! Is it already in use in some restaurants?

            2
            • Enjay Systems

              68 w

              @marine_stephan Hi, Yes! we are up and running on 8 European markets where we recapture excess heat from restaurants, schools, hotels and even food processing factories.

              1
            • Tabitha Kimani

              70 w

              Fantastic. This is what happens when great minds come together. A really great solution in energy efficiency.

              1
              • Suma Ayyagari

                70 w

                Would be of great value in all process industries.

                1
                • Enjay Systems

                  68 w

                  @suma_ayyagari Yes, we have just completed our first installation at Europes biggest pancake factory. Annuals enenrgy recovery is estimated at 1,500,000 kWh per year.

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