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Incandescent Bulbs Return To The Cutting Edge

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/business...ml?ref=business

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed.

But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,†said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.â€

The first bulbs to emerge from this push, Philips Lighting’s Halogena Energy Savers, are expensive compared with older incandescents. They sell for $5 apiece and more, compared with as little as 25 cents for standard bulbs.

But they are also 30 percent more efficient than older bulbs. Philips says that a 70-watt Halogena Energy Saver gives off the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and lasts about three times as long, eventually paying for itself.

The line, for now sold exclusively at Home Depot and on Amazon.com, is not as efficient as compact fluorescent light bulbs, which can use 75 percent less energy than old-style bulbs. But the Energy Saver line is finding favor with consumers who dislike the light from fluorescent bulbs or are bothered by such factors as their slow start-up time and mercury content.

“We’re experiencing double-digit growth and we’re continuing to expand our assortment,†said Jorge Fernandez, the executive who decides what bulbs to stock at Home Depot. “Most of the people that buy that bulb have either bought a C.F.L. and didn’t like it, or have identified an area that C.F.L.’s don’t work in.â€

For lighting researchers involved in trying to save the incandescent bulb, the goal is to come up with one that matches the energy savings of fluorescent bulbs while keeping the qualities that many consumers seem to like in incandescents, like the color of the light and the ease of using them with dimmers.

“Due to the 2007 federal energy bill that phases out inefficient incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012, we are finally seeing a race†to develop more efficient ones, said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Some of the leading work is under way at a company called Deposition Sciences here in Santa Rosa. Its technology is a key component of the new Philips bulb line.

Normally, only a small portion of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is converted into light, while the rest is emitted as heat. Deposition Sciences applies special reflective coatings to gas-filled capsules that surround the bulb’s filament. The coatings act as a sort of heat mirror that bounces heat back to the filament, where it is transformed to light.

While the first commercial product achieves only a 30 percent efficiency gain, the company says it has achieved 50 percent in the laboratory. No lighting manufacturer has agreed yet to bring the latest technology to market, but Deposition Sciences hopes to persuade one.

Interesting.

It appears that this technology may not be as obsolete as people thought.

Could green be the next bubble to rescue the economy?

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Could green be the next bubble to rescue the economy?

Yes, if making the same thing 10x as expensive as it was is a way to help the economy.

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As for the traditional light bulb.

They could probably reduce energy loss considerably by having the bulb “double glazedâ€. That would reduce the heat lost through conduction and convection hence reducing the energy required.

In fact if you had three layers of glass and one of the glass glazing didn’t let through wavelengths below red light then you would have a near perfect light bulb. You could even fill the layers of glazing with various gases to absorb below red light if you can not find a glass to do it

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As for the traditional light bulb.

They could probably reduce energy loss considerably by having the bulb “double glazedâ€. That would reduce the heat lost through conduction and convection hence reducing the energy required.

In fact if you had three layers of glass and one of the glass glazing didn’t let through wavelengths below red light then you would have a near perfect light bulb. You could even fill the layers of glazing with various gases to absorb below red light if you can not find a glass to do it

You would just have a lightbulb that would pop due to its rediculous heat. Or melt. Just because you stop the heat escaping doesnt mean it still isnt being produced at the filament.

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You would just have a lightbulb that would pop due to its rediculous heat. Or melt. Just because you stop the heat escaping doesnt mean it still isnt being produced at the filament.

:rolleyes:

The basic idea is to lower the current required in the filament to achieve the same temperature at the filament. so it wouldn’t pop or melt

To get a efficient light bulb you just need to reduce all the unwanted energy wastes.

So you lower the energy lost due to a hot light bulb, you do that via double or more glazing.

You then have the more difficult task of reducing the energy lost at wavelengths that you do not want. That would involve finding or designing materials that absorb infrared well.

For example if you could design a light bulb with say 4 glazes. In between the 1st and second you would place a material which lets through visible light but not a lot of infrared light. The remaining layers would be full of an insulating gas.

That way the outside of the light bulb is cold, or at least not as hot as they are currently.

You have little infrared radiation lost.

The only way energy escapes the light bulb is through visible light and hence you have a very efficient light bulb.

Not sure why it hasn’t been tried. The basic science is simple, I suppose it is manufacturing difficulties which stop it.

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:rolleyes:

The basic idea is to lower the current required in the filament to achieve the same temperature at the filament. so it wouldn’t pop or melt

To get a efficient light bulb you just need to reduce all the unwanted energy wastes.

So you lower the energy lost due to a hot light bulb, you do that via double or more glazing.

You then have the more difficult task of reducing the energy lost at wavelengths that you do not want. That would involve finding or designing materials that absorb infrared well.

For example if you could design a light bulb with say 4 glazes. In between the 1st and second you would place a material which lets through visible light but not a lot of infrared light. The remaining layers would be full of an insulating gas.

That way the outside of the light bulb is cold, or at least not as hot as they are currently.

You have little infrared radiation lost.

The only way energy escapes the light bulb is through visible light and hence you have a very efficient light bulb.

Not sure why it hasn’t been tried. The basic science is simple, I suppose it is manufacturing difficulties which stop it.

I think the problem you'll find is double glazing salesmen.

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The problem is that the older type of bulb was only inefficient in hot countries, where the heat escaping was not wanted. In Northern Europe, the heat escape is wanted....it warms the room. What you save on electricity with the new type of 'energy efficient' bulbs is spent on extra heating.

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The basic idea is to lower the current required in the filament to achieve the same temperature at the filament. so it wouldn’t pop or melt

Erm, back to school.

As you reduce energy use, the light will go before the heat does. You can easily generate the heat without the light from a filament, but not vice versa.

Now, more interesting ideas might be, for example, some coating on the glass that emits light when excited by small amounts of infrared (heat), microwave, or other lower-energy radiation. That sort of thing would be interesting indeed.

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Interesting.

It appears that this technology may not be as obsolete as people thought.

Could green be the next bubble to rescue the economy?

Looks like an example of legislation having a beneficial effect: it's provoked someone into developing new, improved technologies.

I'd still prefer economic incentives. A programme to bring safety and environmental standards for fossil fuels up to what we (rightly) impose on the nuclear industry would provide a powerful incentive to reduce consumption as the price skyrockets, and research like this becomes very profitable as well as beneficial.

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For example if you could design a light bulb with say 4 glazes. In between the 1st and second you would place a material which lets through visible light but not a lot of infrared light. The remaining layers would be full of an insulating gas.

The only way energy escapes the light bulb is through visible light and hence you have a very efficient light bulb.

Not sure why it hasn’t been tried. The basic science is simple, I suppose it is manufacturing difficulties which stop it.

|I think you'll find that the reason it hasn't been tried is because it would heat the inside of the bulb past the melting point of the glass very quickly.

In any case, more efficient 'standard' bulbs have been on sale for while now. And I suspect that LED bulbs will be standard everywhere in a few years, being more advanced and efficient than CF.

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Erm, back to school.

As you reduce energy use, the light will go before the heat does. You can easily generate the heat without the light from a filament, but not vice versa.

Now, more interesting ideas might be, for example, some coating on the glass that emits light when excited by small amounts of infrared (heat), microwave, or other lower-energy radiation. That sort of thing would be interesting indeed.

Not quite, if you limit all energy loss to just visible light you have a perfect light bulb.

As for your idea about a coating that absorbs infrared and emits visible. That isn’t possible, the opposite is possible though. (well actually it is possible but the tech is theoretical at the moment)

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|I think you'll find that the reason it hasn't been tried is because it would heat the inside of the bulb past the melting point of the glass very quickly.

Yes very good point, I didn’t consider that.

Seems the melting point of glass is about 1730 centigrade so the inside layer would need to be sub 1500 centigrade.

So that means we will indeed have some loss (although I am sure you could use it to some energy loss).

Perhaps it would be possible to design a composite that can go somewhat above 1700 centigrade.

In any case, more efficient 'standard' bulbs have been on sale for while now. And I suspect that LED bulbs will be standard everywhere in a few years, being more advanced and efficient than CF.

Yep LED technology seems to be the way forward. Seems they can be made more efficient than compact florescent and more importantly will last a lifetime.

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The problem is that the older type of bulb was only inefficient in hot countries, where the heat escaping was not wanted. In Northern Europe, the heat escape is wanted....it warms the room. What you save on electricity with the new type of 'energy efficient' bulbs is spent on extra heating.

Sure the heat is wanted in colder nations but burning gas in a turbines hundreds of miles away at 50% efficient and transmitting it at 90% efficient to turn it into heat at your house is a big waste. Just use 90% efficient gas boilers.

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Yep LED technology seems to be the way forward. Seems they can be made more efficient than compact florescent and more importantly will last a lifetime.

A great incentive then, how long is a lifetime? 20yrs 100yrs?

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
Could green be the next bubble to rescue the economy?

Definitely.

Legislate everything that can be deemed un-green into obsolescence.

Ship it off to China and India.

Everyone buys new 'green' consumer goods.

'Green technology' advances, requiring 'upgrades'

Send more trash to China and India.

Keep the endless consumption model, with guilt/smugness Jones's competitive dynamic.

MPs incentivised by manufacturing lobbyists.

>> Brave New World.

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A great incentive then, how long is a lifetime? 20yrs 100yrs?

Well LEDs installed in the 60s are still working today.

They could well last 100 years plus.

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Well LEDs installed in the 60s are still working today.

They could well last 100 years plus.

prove it :P I'm looking for 1000 year old LEDS :P (jk)

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White LEDs don't last forever, as the heat they produce degrades the phosphor that actually is the source of yellow light. It's a blue LED inside. Add yellow and you get a sort of daylight white, not full spectrum, so for some people the colour may be just as objectionable as fluorescents. If you overheat them, it prematurely ages the phosphor, and the light becomes less bright, and takes on a blueish tint.

Why can't we have super-insulated tungsten bulbs with higher filament temperatures?

Er, we do. They're called halogen bulbs. The halogen in the bulb is gaseous, and prevents the filament from evaporating and coating the interior of the glass bulb. That's the blackening you see inside old bulbs, which reduces their efficiency.

Lumens/Watt is how you rate the efficiency of bulbs.

Ordinary bulbs, about 16 Lumens/Watt (at 100Watts, worse for lower wattages)

Halogens 20 to 40 Lumens/Watt (best as MR16 10W)

CF's about 60 Lumens/Watt

White LED's from most makers, 30-35 Lumens/Watt (this is what you get in the replacement bulbs). From just a very few manufacturers, up to 120 Lumens/Watt.

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