© 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.

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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Additional product information can be found here:

The proven iQ motor series

Compact motors for driving axial fans