Say "Nay" to Loss: A Revolutionary Ventilation System Inspired by a Child

28th May, 2020

The latter half of the 1960s saw the invention of a revolutionary ventilation system known as "Lossnay". Sensing an approaching rise in demand for air conditioners on the horizon, Mitsubishi Electric developed Lossnay energy recovery ventilators to reduce the energy loss resulting from ventilating when running an air conditioner or heater. But what else is intriguing about it is the story of its conception. A spoiler: it started from child’s play.

The Eyes of a Child

It is a cold morning in December of 1968. At the home of one of Mitsubishi Electric’s engineers, his two-year-old daughter has taken a leaflet advertisement out of a newspaper and rolled it into a cylinder. She holds the opening at the top up to her mouth and breathes into the hollow structure. "It’s warm. Warm!" she babbles in her way of toddler talk. She was amused – her breath, exhaled, carried the warmth throughout the paper in her hands, making it warmer. The engineer, watching, realized something significant: paper has heat-conducting properties. His daughter’s playtime had sparked a new idea in his head – one that would lead to the creation of a new, groundbreaking energy recovery ventilation system.

The name "Lossnay" was coined for this system, and Mitsubishi Electric first introduced it to the public in 1970. Demand for air conditioners was rising in tandem with the growing Japanese economy, and Mitsubishi Electric sensed early on that this demand would also spark a need for energy-efficient technology; the Lossnay ventilation system represents one of the firm’s efforts to provide effective solutions in this field. So, why is this technology necessary? Air conditioners most efficiently maintain comfortable temperatures when the space in question is sealed off from exterior air flow, but this also presents a challenge – an essential need for fresh air from the outside, or ventilation, to make a space comfortable for its inhabitants. By its nature, ventilation typically correlates with the loss of heat. What this creates is a demand for technology that maintains comfortable indoor air quality while efficiently ventilating the same space. Mitsubishi Electric’s development efforts here reveal a foresight of this rise in demand, one coupled with the rise in ubiquity of the air conditioner.

A New Role for Paper

Lossnay functions as a way to maintain comfort while simultaneously balancing a need for ventilation. Named "Lossnay" precisely because it says "nay" to energy loss, this technology represents the first attempt to incorporate the unique properties of paper for heat conduction.

Let’s look into how it works. Ventilation typically involves using fans that release stale air outside, but in principle, these fans take in as much air from the outside as they release it from inside. Imagine that you’re running an air conditioner in the summertime – ventilation involves letting the cool air inside escape, bringing the sweltering summer heat from the outdoors inside. But when Lossnay ventilates a room, it exchanges heat and bridges the gap between the temperature of fresh, outside air and stale, indoor air: a system generally known as an "energy recovery ventilator."

So how does one keep temperatures constant while letting fresh air in? This is Lossnay’s specialty. The Lossnay simultaneously facilitates an exchange of heat while welcoming outside air in and pushing out air from the interior. The Lossnay Core plays a vital role here; made of specially processed paper, the Lossnay Core receives air to be sent out and air to be brought in. As both airstreams cross each other inside this apparatus, the properties of the paper within allow for an exchange of heat and humidity between the two streams. Doing this means that air brought into the space is closer to room temperature.

Fresh Air, Everywhere

However, Lossnay’s strength lies not only in its use of the properties of paper to facilitate ventilation while retaining comfortable conditions inside a room; implementing the system presents an abundance of other benefits as well. For example, Lossnay lightens much of the energy burden needed to perform day-to-day air conditioning, significantly reducing buildings’ running costs when compared to those of standard ventilation systems. And that’s not all – the technology allows for firms to downsize on the air conditioner of their choosing, thereby helping reduce initial costs.

Lossnay marked the 50th anniversary of its introduction in 2020, and now can be found not only in homes, office buildings, and factory facilities, but in governmental structures, on high-speed railways, and in Japan’s most noteworthy skyscrapers – where it excels at improving indoor air quality and reducing air conditioning costs. And its technological sophistication has received global recognition, with over seven million units shipped during its history. Lossnay, true to its name, has made great strides in reducing loss and increasing energy efficiency in air-conditioning processes across all situations.

The amusement of one child a half-century ago has sparked the invention of a revolutionary ventilation system, and two vital elements have propelled this growth – technological innovation and dedicated analysis of the market’s needs. Its position as a mainstay of the Mitsubishi Electric brand reflects a legacy: a 50-year-old spirit of enterprise and development, continuing dramatically into the present.

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