On the 100th anniversary of Edison’s tungsten bulb, alternative lighting methods that use less energy and reduce pollution are gaining ground. Fluorescent (FL) or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs save energy but also have drawbacks such as unnatural color that may not be pleasing to the eye or in the case of CFL bulbs in particular, they may not fit in recessed lighting fixtures. And perhaps the most important issue, both FL and CFL bulbs contain mercury, requiring special handling for bulb disposal after use.
On the horizon is a promising new technology, Light Emitting Diode (LED) devices that can provide a good replacement.
Moving the ball forward in next-generation lighting, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $37.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund 17 high-efficiency solid-state lighting (SSL) projects. Applied Materials will receive $3.9 million of those funds for a project to reduce costs of LED manufacturing through improvements in manufacturing equipment and processes.
The United States Government's Department of Energy (DOE) is running a contest, named the L Prize, to reward the first organization to design and develop an energy efficient LED bulb. A recent article in the New York Times describes both the contest and the recent submission from lighting giant Philips. The prize for a replacement 60 watt bulb is $10 million dollars and for a replacement reflector flood lamp it's $5 million dollars.
EE Times published an excellent, in-depth overview of the Light Emitting Diode (LED) industry in the September 21 Special Edition. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the fast growing LED market. This survey article is unique in that it is only available in the EE Times on-line reader format so you must click on the link when connected to the internet.
Long the symbol of a good idea, tungsten (also known as wolfram – but that’s another story) light bulbs have been deemed a bad idea by the European Union. As of today the EU has officially banned the sale of frosted tungsten light bulbs with the idea of moving to more energy efficient lighting. Also, clear bulbs over 100W must be transitioned to more efficient types by 2012.