Friday, June 22, 2007

Never Ending Lightbulb

A UK firm has developed a bulb that is more than 3 times as efficient as CFL bulbs and will burn brightly for decades. They claim that it will burn for so long that the building or appliance that contains it will wear out before the bulb does.

The traditional light bulb remained the way it is for so long because there wasn’t enough of an incentive to change. No one bothered to develop newer, more efficient designs because they were so cheap to produce. They waste 95% of energy and don’t last long.

That is changing now with CFL bulbs, because the green movement is providing an incentive to change. Now they are becoming even more advanced. The Economist is reporting that a team of researchers has developed a bulb that lasts, for all intents and purposes, forever. It’s also far more efficient, converting more energy to light rather than heat.

UK Company, Ceravision, have created a new bulb design that doesn’t use electrodes, so cannot burn out. It uses a magnetometer to bombard a small piece of aluminum oxide with microwaves to create an electrical field. Gas is then passed into a hole in the aluminium, in order to ionise it and create a glowing plasma. Traditional bulbs convert only 5% of energy to heat, CFLs make use of around 15%, but this new design converts over 50%.

There are other bonuses as well, both financially and environmentally. The bulbs are expected to last for decades, so will need replacing far less often. This means less carbon emissions from production, and lower costs. It also doesn’t have the traces of mercury that CFL bulbs have, so will be easier and cleaner to dispose of once it does burn out.

Never Ending Lightbulb [via TreeHugger]

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