The race towards better, more affordable solid state lighting is heating up quickly. The U.S. government has sponsored a $20M USD prize for the first team of researchers to come up with solid state lighting that meets a strict set of standards. New research has finally helped to eliminate the LED droop typically associated with the higher currents needed to provide greater efficiencies.
Now a team at Cambridge University may be close to having a winning design on their hands, perhaps for the L Prize, if they're eligible, and for the consumer market. The university has produced a new design which costs a mere $2.85 USD and despite being the size of a penny, produces similar light to a fluorescent bulb while lasting over four times as long with a lifetime of 60 years.
The new design triples fluorescent bulb efficiency and is 12 times more efficient than incandescent designs. Also, it’s capable of instantaneous illumination, so the light lag associated with fluorescent bulbs may soon be a thing of the past.
If installed across all of Britain, the researchers estimate that it could cut the country's lighting portion of the energy budget from 20 percent to 5 percent a year. The U.S. could muster a similar 10 percent drop with the design, according to recent DOE estimates. The new bulbs last 100,000 hours and unlike other "eco" bulbs, they contain no mercury, a substance that can cause brain damage in humans. They also don't flicker, while other green designs do, something that's been blamed for triggering epileptic fits.
Officials say the new design could cut 40 million tons of carbon emissions in Britain alone. Britain recently stopped restocking certain incandescent bulbs in stores. The new design relies on a specially formulated gallium nitride semiconductor, which builds on previous LED work. It is brighter than traditional designs and relatively cheap from a chemical perspective, compared to more exotic chemistries.
The British researchers managed to make the LEDs even more affordable by growing them on silicon wafers instead of on sapphire wafers, the traditional method of production. This makes them at last cheap enough for the consumer market. Growing the LEDs on silicon was assisted by a number of advances at other U.S. and European research institutions.
While some designs take decades to reach the market, Cambridge's design is already being prototyped and readied for production. RFMD in County Durham, England is the first manufacturer to jump at the opportunity to mass produce and ship the high-performing LED bulbs.
Professor Colin Humphreys, head of the team at Cambridge states, "This could well be the holy grail in terms of providing our lighting needs for the future. We are very close to achieving highly efficient, low-cost white LEDs. That won't just be good news for the environment. It will also benefit consumers by cutting their electricity bills. It is our belief they will render current energy-efficiency bulbs redundant."
quote: That reminds me of the story (I think from Maine) where a woman had a CFL break, and the quote to clean it up was $2,000. This was back when people knew CFLs had mercury but didn't know how much or what to do if it broke.
quote: Simply removing metal fillings is not going to magically remove any mercury that made it into your brain. You experienced the placebo effect. Correlation is not causation.
quote: It really depends on the person too...my girlfriend almost died from heavy metal poisoning
quote: But the much smaller amounts of lead in solder or mercury in light bulbs is quite a different story entirely.
quote: In the 18th and 19th century, massive amounts of mercury were given to patients as a cure-all for many different diseases (the so-called "blue pill"); there are reports of people ingesting more than a pint of elemental mercury at a single setting. And of course, lead pipes have been used for centuries.
quote: Because something was used does not mean it is not dangerous...In the 50ties , the yellow eggyolk was also considered healthy...
quote: Asbest has also been widely used and is also highly toxic.
quote: Asbestos is actually one of the most overblown environmental scares
quote: There isn't an element or chemical compound on earth that isn't dangerous in some quantity. Too much free oxygen will damage organs, and an overly large dose of water can cause poisoning. The dose determines the risk.
quote: Everything is electronics now. The sheer amount of electronic waste is enormous and therefore the amount of lead and other heavy metals. Now, i feel that when everything is seperated properly and processed properly there is not really an issue when it comes to using heavy and toxic materials. However, the free market forced modern sociëty in this behaviour of just trowing everything away and not to process and recycle our e-waste. Taking properly care of waste raises the price of the end product and the consumer does not want to pay for this clean up.Thus the solution is that everything has to be made from non toxic materials. That is not a bad thing, but i really wonder how much magic tricks the carbon magician has left in it's hat. Every element can be a solution to an engineering problem. It is all very easy to understand.
quote: How many modern electrical components can you name that are made with non-toxic materials? Nearly everything we use, even down to the simplest components, are made from or with toxic chemicals, for example, electrolytic capacitors and semiconductors of all types. Or how about the fiberglass and resins which are used to form the PCBs on which we build circuits? Maybe we can find suitable replacements for these materials, but undoubtedly the manufacture of the devices will still involve toxic processes. Those chemicals may not be directly in the hands of the consumer, but they eventually have to be disposed of somewhere. It's all a matter of tradeoffs. You never will get something for nothing; there always will be toxic materials involved somewhere along the line.
quote: Removing lead from solder may seem like a good idea at face value, but like I said, there is a tradeoff. One reason lead was originally added was to counter the phenomenon known as 'tin whiskers,' in which tin naturally grows thin whisker-like structures from its surface, which can cause shorts to other exposed circuit nodes. Surface-mounted ICs with the leads less than a millimeter apart are some of the most likely places for whiskers to cause problems. Tin whiskers were a known killer of circuits as far back as the '50s, and forming an alloy with lead virtually eliminates the problem. Furthermore, there is no known solution to the problem, and other alloys of tin do not stop the growth nearly as well as lead-tin. Now that lead has been removed from most circuits, expect to see an increase in failures in coming years. Perhaps we eliminated some lead exposure from our lives, though the extent of that exposure is debatable, and for most pepople, negligible. Maybe we should have waited for all those other wonderful non-toxic circuit components before guaranteeing increased quantities of electronic waste. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, I'm just trying to add a dose of reality to all this happy talk.
quote: There is no "special form of flux" that takes care of tin whiskers. Flux does NOT make sure no short circuits appear, it has two primary functions:
quote: While these two functions may indeed cause the solder to stay where it should be and not cause a short circuit,
quote: However, the free market forced modern sociëty in this behaviour of just trowing everything away and not to process and recycle our e-waste. Taking properly care of waste raises the price of the end product and the consumer does not want to pay for this clean up.
quote: Heavy metals and especially some of their compounds are unquestionably toxic. But the modern belief that incredibly trace amounts are dangerous is verging on superstition....
quote: Your distinction about power cost is irrelevant. In all our products using power we don't stop and think to ourselfs "what's it matter if I just throw away something that costs $50 because it used power".
quote: You throw something away when it ceases to be useful or desirable, not based on some arbitrary concept of % cost. The same is true with non-LED fixtures now.
quote: it is puzzling why this news article was written up as if it's something significant. At the very most all the "news" was is that they might have (no specs to confirm this?) increased LED efficiency slightly relative to other contemporary LED designs.
quote: it does kinda make sense for bedrooms and living rooms
quote: Still...I'd pay $15 a bulb if it truly meant never having to replace it again in my lifetime. Not to mention energy savings and whatnot.
quote: They pay for themselves in a matter of months, and so would these
quote: There are light bulbs you can buy NOW that last a lot longer. They are 130 volt bulbs. Go into a Lowes or Home Depot, though, and they are nowhere to be found.
quote: The new bulbs last 100,000 hours..
quote: It is our belief they will render current energy-efficiency bulbs redundant.
quote: The new design triples fluorescent bulb efficiency
quote: Do we know what 60 years of heat, cold, air pressure, pollution, and humans do to this kind of glass? What about the wire?
quote: New research has finally helped to eliminate the LED droop typically associated with the higher currents needed to provide greater efficiencies .
quote: Officials say the new design could cut 40 million tons of carbon emissions in Britain alone.