Startup company Ceravision Ltd. (Milton Keynes, England) has said it has invented a 50% efficient microwave-powered light bulb that is more efficient than filament (5% efficient) or fluorescent (15% efficient) lighting and with a long stable lamp life. The company said it has prototypes available for evaluation by lamp and electronics manufacturers.
Prototype microwave light
The Continuum 2.4 system comprises a microwave source and power amplifier, a microwave interface unit and a low-loss dielectric resonator with an interior void where noble gas is excited to produce light.
One of the breakthroughs claimed by Ceravision is the ability to prevent high levels of microwave power being reflected back to the source and damaging it at switch on. The microwave interface unit limits less than 0.5 percent of incident microwave power is reflected back, the company said.
Instead the output is launched via a metal antenna into a metal-coated low-loss dielectric resonator. The mechanical dimensions of the resonator determine the ultimate performance of the lamp system and where the microwave energy will be focused. At the focal point the resonator has a cavity into which the electrode-less “burner” is inserted.
Because the lamp has no filament, the scientists who developed it think it will last for thousands of hours of use—in other words, decades. Moreover the light it generates comes from what is almost a single point, which means that the bulbs can be used in projectors and televisions. Because of this, the light is much more directional and the lamp could thus prove more efficient than bulbs that scatter light in all directions. Its long life would make the new light ideal for places where the architecture makes changing lightbulbs a complicated and expensive job. Its small size makes it comparable to light-emitting diodes but the new lamp generates much brighter light than do those semiconductor devices.
Another environmental advantage of the system is that it does not have to use mercury. The metal is highly toxic and is found in most of the bulbs used today, including the energy-saving bulb, fluorescent tubes and the high-pressure bulbs used in projectors. Its developers reckon it should be cheap to make.
With lighting accounting for some 20% of electricity use worldwide, switching to a more efficient system could save not only energy but also on emissions of carbon.
Switching from predominantly 5% efficient lighting to 50+% efficient lighting would save 17% of electricity used worldwide.
OLED Display and Lighting Markets to Expand to $10.9 Billion by 2012 Other projections are for $2.9 billion for the display market.
The LED market reached $4.2 billion in 2006 and is set to emerge from its current state of low growth, according to Strategies Unlimited. Emerging applications including illumination will drive the market towards $9 billion by 2011.
Reviewing conservation difficulties (in spite of problems we still must try):
In 2005, U.S. consumers spent about $1 billion to buy about 2 billion lightbulbs–5.5 million every day. Just 5%, 100 million, were compact fluorescents.
The Walmart promotion and the Al Gore push is trying to get it up to 200 million or 10% of bulbs in 2007. There are cheap ($1 and even saw 25 cent promotions at supermarkets) 40watt bulbs in california supermarket checkouts, but they are still not moving that well. Not much difference between the lowest price and pay your own stamp for a free one.
Walmart sold sold 40 million of the energy efficient bulbs compared with about 350 million incandescent bulbs. It was from August 2005 to August 2006 — not in 2005. Walmart took a series of steps to promote the energy efficient bulbs.
2005 title 24 was introduced to force more better light usage when californians remodel their homes with a permit. But when people remodel and flip homes most changed back to incandescent because the house looked better for resale. They got a higher price because the house showed better. When I speak to contractors and real estate agents this is common practice to circumvent title 24.
In 2005, only 28% of americans said they “plan to install measures to conserve energy at home before this winter,” according to a survey taken last month by the National Oilheat Research Alliance.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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