Just when LED light bulbs seemed to be gaining traction, along comes a technology that researchers insinuate could trump them: Plastic.
Meet the Fipel - the field-induced polymer electroluminescent light source. According to physicists at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and Trinity College, Dublin, a Fipel requires less energy than a fluorescent bulb does, the BBC reports.
Thus, a Fipel would also be more energy efficient than an LED bulb, since LEDs and fluorescents require about the same amount of electricity. As I wrote last week, LED vendors are struggling in the vast market for commercial office lighting, where buyers are not willing to pay the higher price that manufacturers charge for LEDs, even though LEDs last longer and have other advantages.
The BBC story does not mention any prices for Fipels. But if Fipels represent a significant energy saving over fluorescents, that might induce buyers to spring for them.
Inventor David Carroll, a professor at Wake Forest, says a corporate partner will start producing them next year. Fipels use “three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them,” according to the BBC.
The Wake Forest team originally wrote about its developments in the journal Organic Lighting.
The BBC explains that Fipel light is warmer than fluorescents. The story does not compare the light quality to LEDs’ quality, which many people regard as superior to fluorescent and inferior to the warm but inefficient incandescent bulbs still common in homes.
Carroll notes that whereas “curly cue” fluorescent bulbs emit a harsh bluish light that can cause headaches, the light from his bulb accommodates the human eye because it “can match the solar spectrum perfectly.”
That sounds potentially better than LED light quality.
Carroll claims at least four other advantages for Fipels over fluorescents:
◦it’s easy to adjust their tint
◦they do not contain environmentally hazardous mercury
◦they are malleable into different shapes
Their bendiness would threaten another emerging light technology: OLEDs, or organic light emitting diodes, which are natural materials that emit light in response to an electric current. They are supposed to transform lighting by allowing designers to build them into things like building fabric, support structures, furniture and fashion. Electronics makers also want to use them to create foldable phones, gadgets and TVs.
Will this mean that the GOP will now take up it's usual struggle to be on the wrong side of history- by introducing bills to SAVE THE LED?
I hope so. Conservatives can be so entertaining!
"So were the bulbs banned or not?
Contrary to claims frequently made by conservative talk radio, bloggers, and some news media outlets, incandescent light bulbs are not actually being "banned." Incandescent bulbs with newer, more efficient technology will still be for sale, because the 2007 law does not single out any particular lighting technology. It only requires light bulbs to meet higher levels of efficiency if they are to be sold.
Under that law, general-purpose light bulbs must become about 30 percent more energy efficient. Different bulb classes face different deadlines, all between 2012 and 2014. The old Edison bulb gets killed on January 1, 2012. But more-efficient incandescent bulbs, which use only 72 watts to give the same output as an old 100-watt Edison bulb, will still be sold.
While Edison bulbs today are about 30-50 cents apiece, updated versions cost $1.50. But the latter pay for themselves in energy savings in about six months.
The old incandescent bulb is clearly an energy hog. Just 5 percent of the electricity it uses lights the bulb – the rest ends up as heat."
While I am all for the development and marketing of the new light technologies, we must remember that the same rules may also apply to traffic signals. The "problem" with the new light technologies is that they are so efficient that very little energy is lost as heat. The reality is that in cold climates, the ice and snow that can accumulate around a traffic signal will not be efficiently melted. Visibility and reduced margin of safety are the results of the unintended consequences of being "too green."