© Bent Grønlund

From a Danish roof-top to the rest of the world

As a chimney sweep, Morten Bjørk­lund knows how much the smoke from neigh­boring chim­neys bothers his customers. His idea of an attach­ment for chim­neys can help settle neigh­bor­hood disputes.

Mr. Bjørk­lund, you’re both a chimney sweep and an inventor. How did that happen?

I’ve been a chimney sweep for 41 years. During that time, I’ve climbed onto more than 120,000 roofs. But the number alone doesn’t really mean that much. I’ve learned a lot because I’m curious. I’ve talked with my customers every day, taken a good look at things, and asked a lot of ques­tions, so I know about their worries and prob­lems. There are a lot of low roofs in Denmark. If smoke doesn’t go up after escaping from a chimney, that’s a real nuisance. And without a decent draft, it’s harder to light the oven. When it finally does catch, it releases soot and smoke — a nuisance for home­owners indoors and for their neigh­bors. So five years ago, I had the idea of devel­oping a special chimney fan.

And just what is a chimney fan?

Chimney sweep Morten Bjørk­lund talked to my customers every day, took a closer look, and asked a lot of ques­tions. Now he’s an inventor. (Photo | Bent Grøn­lund)

BlueChimney is an attach­ment that can be put on top of any chimney. It uses a fan to suck the smoke out of a wood-burning stove, mixes it with outside air to cool and dilute it, and then expels it force­fully. That keeps the chimney free, smoke and soot emis­sion stays rela­tively low, and the neigh­bors aren’t both­ered by smoke. BlueChimney also reduces partic­u­late emis­sions. It’s a solu­tion with plenty of demand. Last winter, we sold 1,000 units in Denmark.

What makes your inven­tion so special?

BlueChimney is very user-friendly. It doesn’t need much elec­tricity, so anybody can install it alone. And with a remote control, you can adjust it for optimum smoke extrac­tion from your chair. That keeps the fire small and the flame steady, so you can use up to 20 percent less wood. On top of that, with its small EC motor, the chimney fan doesn’t need much energy. One reason is because the motor is also smart and auto­mat­i­cally switches itself off when it can.

How BlueChimney works

The smoke extractor attach­ment fits on any chimney. The fan draws in air at the side, and a patented twin cooling system ensures that the motor in the housing largely remains cool. As a result, the BlueChimney unit can with­stand high temper­a­tures and has a long service life. The concen­tra­tion of the smoke is also reduced by a factor of ten to 25 before it is force­fully expelled from the chimney. iQ motors are usually used in refrig­er­a­tion tech­nology.

Motor: iQ2 3620
Voltage: 24 VDC
Weight: 6.8 kg

How did you go about imple­menting your idea?

When you begin with an inven­tion, there are a lot of things you have no idea about. But that’s no problem as long as you can find an expert for each issue. For me that was ebm-papst in Denmark. With all their expe­ri­ence with fans and motors, the people there were able to help me. I met with them regu­larly. That was what it took to develop a suit­able motor together. Working together to find a mate­rial that could with­stand the high smoke temper­a­tures of up to 700° Celsius was a real chal­lenge. The motor, the fan, its elec­tronics, and the program­ming are Blue-Chimney’s most impor­tant compo­nents. This good part­ner­ship was a big help in devel­oping the inven­tion, and it’s still going on.

Do you work alone other­wise?

No, not anymore. Three and a half years ago, I found the perfect partner: Pauli Joensen. He used to be the managing director of a big company, so he knows the things I can’t do, the busi­ness aspects. Together we set up our company, BlueChimney. Today we have four employees, and we don’t get bored. Unfor­tu­nately, I don’t go up on roofs anymore. I miss that a lot. But we’re working on an exciting new idea now. I can’t tell you exactly what it is yet, but you can bet the next year will be exciting.

What’s next for BlueChimney?

We’ll be starting sales for the next season in Sweden, Norway and Germany. In compar­ison with Denmark, there are plenty of two-story houses in Germany and also stricter laws regarding fire­place approval, but there’s still strong demand for clean air. In the next few years, we’ll be concen­trating on all of northern Europe. For about a year, we’ve had a part­ner­ship with a Danish company that makes stoves. Now customers can even get our product in any Euro­pean home improve­ment store. Our plan is to sell up to ten thou­sand chimney fans in Europe in the next four years. Our target group is basi­cally anywhere where it’s cold in winter and people use wood or pellets for heating. And I think there’s also a market for Blue­Chimney in North America; I was just there on vaca­tion and took advan­tage of the oppor­tu­nity to get a patent for the United States and Canada.

The BlueChimney can be installed very easily. (Photo | Bent Grøn­lund)

Sustain­able good spirits: The winner of a christmas raffle gave her BlueChimney to her neighbor. (Photo | Morten Bjørk­lund)

Bjørk­lund is already working on a new idea. (Photo | Bent Grøn­lund)

Does BlueChimney help neigh­bors get along better?

Unfor­tu­nately we can’t tell from our orders whether the customers are buying the chimney fans for them­selves or for their neigh­bors. But the winner of a contest we held for Christmas gave her BlueChimney to her neighbor. When we heard that, we offered her another one at a special price. Every­body was pleased by that. It would be a nice thing to think about, a “love-thy-neighbor” campaign …

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