Print 30 comment(s) - last by TimberJon.. on Jun 3 at 3:11 PM

The L Prize is an exciting new electronics competition sponsored by the DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is not a fan of the old-fashioned light bulb which has changed little over the last few decades -- in fact it wants to replace it.  It wants scientists to develop more efficient, high-quality affordable solid-state lighting and it has launched a new prize program titled Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize.  The department states, "The L Prize will continue DOE’s lighting research and development efforts by aiming to radically accelerate America’s shift from inefficient, dated lighting products to innovative, high-performance products."

The new program will offer cash prizes and according to the DoE,
"may also lead to opportunities for federal purchasing agreements, utility programs, and other incentives for winning products."

The new program is part of the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, a wide reaching bill seeking to help reduce America's dependence on foreign energy sources by promoting greater energy efficiency.  Among its chief targets is the replacement of most inefficient current forms of lighting --
60W incandescent lamps and PAR 38 halogen lamps.  There are prizes for designing a light bulb in either class which meets the requirements defined by the Department of Energy.

The EISA legislation authorizes up to $20M USD in cash prizes.  The money will come from the DOE Congressional appropriations, charitable foundations, and power utilities.  Of the cash prize purse, the DOE is contributing $1M USD, contingent upon the promised 2009 appropriation.  It tells competitors that the real figure will be substantially larger.

It states, "In addition, potential opportunities for future federal purchasing agreements, utility programs, and other incentives for winning products may far exceed the value of the cash prize."

The specifications for the competition on a most basic level state that for a design to be eligible to claim the prize it must consumer just 17 percent of the energy used in current incandescent designs.  Designs will be rigorously tested to confirm their fitness and durability.  Utility partners will help stress the bulbs under real world conditions.

Four major utilities -- Pacific Gas & Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison -- have all signed aboard the project.  They pledge to help contribute to the testing, and help reward prize winners.

More details on prize specifics and solid-state lighting can be viewed here.

The DOE is going to offer a new certification "DOE Energy Star" to exemplary designs.  It expects these designs to start appearing on the market by late this year.

The "L Prize" follows closely in the footsteps of the well publicized "X Prize" competitions, which started out as a prize for the first private suborbital space flight, and since have expanded to include goals such as a new lunar lander and better gas mileage.  DailyTech has looked in depth at the promising future of LED lighting in an article which can be viewed here.

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how about led
By freaqie on 6/2/2008 6:30:49 AM , Rating: 1
what is wrong with LED lighting.
it is pretty affordable.
mass producable and very energy efficient
why invest in new technology.
it is so efficient.
focus on other stuff where more savings are to be achieved

RE: how about led
By Saosin on 6/2/2008 6:40:37 AM , Rating: 2
LED is solid-state lighting...

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:23:58 AM , Rating: 2
LEDs are good but can't replace the 60W bulbs you find at home. There's only so much LEDs you can cram into a finite space, plus they aren't bright enougn.

RE: how about led
By Alexstarfire on 6/2/2008 7:28:07 AM , Rating: 2
Have you seen some of the latest ones? They are plenty bright enough. I don't really know what's holding them back. OLEDs should hopefully help the LED lighting situation though.

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:34:08 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, you are right. There already are LED lamps:

Check the challenges in using LEDs as a replacement for lamps.

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:34:20 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, you are right. There already are LED lamps:

Check the challenges in using LEDs as a replacement for lamps.

RE: how about led
By masher2 (blog) on 6/2/2008 9:56:33 AM , Rating: 2
> "I don't really know what's holding them back. "

Cost primarily, along with the poor quality of the light generated. Fluorescent lighting is also more energy-efficient than the typical LED lamps sold at the consumer level...though some LED lighting in labs is besting it.

RE: how about led
By spluurfg on 6/2/2008 7:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
My LED flashlight puts out enough light for me to see the beam on the ground on a sunny day, or light up a dark street, and runs on two small lithium batteries for 11 hours. LEDs can be plenty bright -- I think the trick, as always, is trying to make them more efficient.

RE: how about led
By aeroxander on 6/2/2008 8:45:08 AM , Rating: 2
The wiki article is very good.

I don't believe that the issue is brightness, its the quality of that light. I find those LED flashlights produce that grey blue tinge to everything which I definitely don't want in my house.

RE: how about led
By Viditor on 6/2/2008 9:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
LED uses a masking tech, OLED is 100% emmittive and far more efficient.
Universal Display Corp has been receiving government grants for several years now on their "white light" program...

RE: how about led
By tastyratz on 6/2/2008 9:40:51 AM , Rating: 5
60w incandescent seem to sit around ~800 lumens or so.

LED's have finally advanced to being significantly bright yes, however there are still several problems.

Single LED's are not yet at the same level of brightness that I have been able to find, so multiple LEDs would be needed. The brightest LED I can find to purchase, the luxeon k2 star, in a very high binned form is 150 lumens and consumes about 4 watts.

Focus is another problem, for a bulb to really be useful you need to be sure it has a good even distribution of light. This will require possibly expensive optics or at least a different approach to lighting than we have now.

LED lights can be made to produce a range of colors (such as the blue you mentioned, they can now do soft whites as well) but they cant reproduce them all at once.
LED lights have a very small range of spectral reproduction. Incandescent are a full bodied range of colors all the way to infrared. LED's produces a very un-natural light and can interfere with melatonin production, as well as mood/etc. Your bodies hormones as well as biological clock actually relies heavily on light therapy.

RE: how about led
By TimberJon on 6/3/2008 3:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but my MagLite can put a beam down a 1/2 mile of road easily and generate something like 50k candlepower.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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