Beyond fluorescent lighting

March 31, 2010
Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor, says once-exotic LED, OLED and nanotechnologies are moving mainstream.

Fluorescent lights, which generate less heat than incandescents and more lumens per watt of input power, are being tailored to meet specific industrial needs. Durable solid state light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs with standard-size screw-in bases readily replace filament-based counterparts. An LED platform soon to hit the market is intended to enhance the technology’s appeal and adoption rate, and the future looks bright for organic LED (OLED) and nano-based lighting technologies.

Specialty needs: Hazardous industrial locations require specialty lighting. AZZ Rig A Lite’s new RFNK62 Series fluorescent lights were designed specifically for offshore and land rig drilling environments. The wet and rugged conditions of this industry require heavy-duty lighting that exhibit functional and dielectric strength and corrosion resistance. The RFNK62 Series protects against flammable gases, vapors and liquids. It’s constructed with a shatter-resistant polycarbonate lens, a marine-grade, welded sheet-aluminum housing and lens frame, heat-resistant gasket, stainless steel external hardware and two safety cable connection points.

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Users of A19-size light bulbs (2-3/8 in. dia.) have a new energy-efficient, mercury-free replacement option. LEDtronics announced a series of 7-watt A19-style LED bulbs that replace 40W to 50W incandescent bulbs and run on a flexible voltage range with no special adapters. The DEC-A19-5X1W Series has a diffused, precision domed lens that directs light at a 95° beam and has a horizontal beam spread of approximately 130°. The bulbs come in warm white and pure white, with a color quality as high as 85 CRI.

Keeping current: Rapid advances in LED technology have some end users hesitant to install integrated LED fixtures. A new modular platform affords greater upgrade and service flexibility than integrated platforms. GE Consumer & Industrial’s LED module twists onto a fixture’s housing and allows users to easily upgrade LED lighting as technology and performance advances. Maintenance is easier because component failures don’t require replacing the entire fixture.
 The puck-shaped, fully-dimmable module makes its thermal and electrical connections on contact as it is twisted into the socket. No fasteners or plugs are required. A single luminaire can support multiple LED modules with different color temperatures and beam angles. A wattage-adjust switch enables three light levels. GE’s LED business, Lumination, acquired the technology from Journée Lighting, and Journée will manufacture the first luminaires that use the module in 2010. The module also is available to other manufacturers as a component.

Going organic: Organic LEDs are the next step in LED technology. Traditional LEDs are especially suited to directed light and spotlights, whereas organic LEDs generate a more subtle, diffused light from the surface of an extremely flat panel, with low heat emissions and a high degree of controllability. Although not yet powerful enough for full illumination and small current panel sizes, developments in organic LED technology continue apace.

A goal at Philips is transparent, OLED-coated windows that simulate daylight after dark and rolled OLED panels capable of wallpapering a room with light. The company also envisions illuminated ceilings and luminous curtains and furniture using flexible and moldable panels. The company’s Lumiblade OLED panels are available as engineering samples, and a starter kit for designers and architects explains the technology and potential applications.

GE recently collaborated with industrial design students from the Cleveland Institute of Art on OLED design ideas. GE challenged the students to conceptualize innovative applications using flexible and paper-thin OLED technology. Hundreds of concepts were proposed, including illuminated stairs, safety outerwear, flexible signs, light-up wallpaper and under-shelf lighting. Some of the students’ ideas are highlighted in videos on YouTube’s GELightingFuture channel. GE’s product management and research teams reviewed the ideas and the company expects to introduce its first commercialized OLED products in late 2010 or 2011.

Nano is big: Researchers at Berkeley Lab developed nanocrystals that emit blue light efficiently when exposed to ultraviolet light. The bright blue luminescence could one day provide an inexpensive alternative to solid-state lighting. Generally, solid-state lighting combines red, green and blue emitting materials to produce white light, but blue light emitters have been more difficult to make. Evidence suggests Berkeley Lab’s non-toxic magnesium oxide nanocrystals could provide bright light that consumes less energy and has a longer lifespan. The lab is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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