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Estonian cleantech Efenco nets €4.5M to accelerate transition to low carbon technologies

Efenco founders
Picture credits: Efenco

Estonian cleantech startup Efenco, which slashes carbon emissions in critical industrial heat applications, has closed a total funding of €4.5 million. This includes a €1.3 million financing led by Ivo Remmelg for EstBAN Syndicate and €3.2 million in grants from the EU’s European Innovation Council (EIC) and Estonia’s Archimedes Foundation. In addition, Efenco has secured an equity commitment of €8 million via the European Investment Bank by 2026.

The funds will be used for product engineering and to integrate advanced materials ensuring durability, functionality, and compliance. 

Accelerates transition to low carbon technologies

Based in Tallinn, Estonia, Efenco was co-founded by Kristjan Tiik, Aleksandr Nagornoy, and Aleksander Vlassov. It has created a chip/tile they call HERC (high-energy ray ceramic chip) which assists in generating plasma during combustion. This increases conversion efficiency by over 18%, meaning the same energy can be created with over 18% less CO2 emissions. 

Its goal is to help remove 77 million tonnes of global CO2 emissions by 2033 – equivalent to 416Twh of new clean energy, or 40% of the EU industrial heat sector’s annual consumption. Efenco’s cold-plasma-assisted combustion technology can be rolled-out rapidly in a business model that requires zero capital outlay. It is already improving the efficiency of conventional energy production in industrial boilers by 20%. Efenco believes its solution can improve the combustion efficiency of natural gas by up to 40% and of hydrogen by up to 75%. 

Unlike all other plasma-assisted combustion technologies, Efenco’s cold-plasma-assisted combustion technology does not require an external energy source. It uses waste heat generated by combustion to generate plasma and enhance reaction efficiency. 

The startup has already delivered 20% energy and carbon savings for a major utility company in Tallinn and has a further eight commercial pilot projects lined up. Already, it has six commercial partners lined up for scale-commercial pilot projects, including Adven, Thermory, and Bepco. The first of these is targeting 1,000 hours of continuous operation. 

Kristjan Tiik, Efenco CEO and co-founder, said: “There are some hard choices coming up if the world is going to make it to net zero. It may be a difficult message for environmentalists to hear, but fossil fuels are an important component of the energy transition. Without them we can’t make steel or concrete. And without those, we can’t build the infrastructure needed for renewable energies. Efenco’s tech provides the industrial furnace efficiency breakthrough we need to bridge that gap. We see it as an essential foundation for the clean energy future, moving gradually towards hydrogen-based solutions.”

Ivo Remmelg, President of EstBAN and angel investor, said: “It’s crucial to reduce CO2 emissions in the world as fast as we can. Efenco’s HERC technology is one of the only new technologies that allow for the immediate reduction of CO2 emissions. In the case of green energy, the immediate, albeit indirect, CO2 emissions actually increase. The corresponding infrastructure needs to be built, the positive effect of which will come later. HERC is a world first among such solutions that doesn’t create new pollution but instead reduces existing pollution rates at the virtually same energy output.”

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