Dusseldorf The company Efficient Energy from Feldenkirchen in the Munich area is developing a refrigeration system that uses only water instead of gases that are harmful to the climate and thus not only saves electricity but also protects the environment. It has now been proven that the technology works, companies like Siemens and British Telecom report significantly lower CO2 emissions. Now the manufacturer wants to set up mass production and is looking for new investors.
How does the system work?
The system is designed to create a vacuum in which water evaporates at room temperature. This creates a cooling effect, similar to human sweating, but in electric motors, servers, offices or other areas where temperatures above freezing are required.
It takes a lot of engineering skill to make this work. The system was initially as big as a garage and therefore much too voluminous for commercial use. And a turbo compressor that provided the necessary performance could not be found at first either. The start-up therefore built the electric motor itself.
The company, founded in 2006, managed to solve the problems over a period of ten years. The currently 100 employees have registered more than 200 patents. Today the eChiller – as the first model was called – is as big as a wardrobe and just about fits through the door. Now it’s time for mass production.
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Why is that important?
Cooling food, offices and data centers consumes a lot of energy. “Refrigeration technology has twice as great an impact on climate change as air traffic,” says Efficient Energy boss Georg Dietrich, who has been a member of the management board since 2018 and is expected to make the company big with his management experience.
On the one hand, according to Dietrich, the power consumption is high because the systems run 24 hours a day. On the other hand, refrigerants that are highly harmful to the climate, so-called F-gases, are used in classic cooling systems. They are released into the atmosphere through leaks or scrapping at the end of their life cycle.
How are the chances?
Whether in industry, retail or IT: refrigeration technology is omnipresent. Systems with alternative refrigerants in particular are likely to be in demand in the coming years: the European Union is drastically restricting the use of F-gases by 2030, and the UN is striving for global regulation based on this model.
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Efficient Energy has proven that it has competitive products. Deutsche Milchkontor GmbH, for example, reports that it has saved electricity costs at one location by more than 80 percent. Also SiemensBritish Telecom and Sparkassen-IT are among the customers.
However, the company still sells small quantities. It is therefore necessary to expand production. Sales of the devices – which can cost several million euros – are expected to increase tenfold by 2024. This should significantly strengthen the business; last year, according to the company, it achieved sales in the single-digit million range.
To date, Efficient Energy has received around 100 million euros in venture capital. The largest lenders are the family office of the Strüngmann brothers and MIG Fonds, both of which Biontech supported in the early stages. They also hold the majority of the shares. Another capital increase is planned.
However, the conditions for start-ups have deteriorated in recent months. “There is great interest on the part of investors in the topics of sustainability and energy efficiency. However, it is more complex than it used to be to organize financing,” Dietrich observes. He is currently in talks with several investors, which should be concluded in the first half of the year.
Every week, the Handelsblatt presents young companies that managers, entrepreneurs and those interested in business should now take a look at. The focus is on the innovation potential, which investors also pay particular attention to. The business models and ideas could also provide new impetus for products and solutions in other sectors.