September 14, 2011

LEDING THE PACK:

The Future of Light Is the LED (Dan Koeppel, September 2011, Wired)

There's an excellent reason LEDs have taken on the aura of inevitability: LEDs are semiconductors, and like all solid-state technology, they are getting better and cheaper on a predictable curve. In 1999, a researcher named Roland Haitz, then heading up semiconductor R&D at Hewlett-Packard, coauthored a paper that became the lighting industry's manifesto. By charting the historical prices of LEDs and projecting forward, Haitz estimated that the amount of light they produced would increase by a factor of 20 per decade, while the cost would correspondingly drop by a factor of 10.

Haitz's law has proven remarkably accurate. But the lighting industry still has major hurdles to clear before LEDs gain acceptance by consumers. Beyond the very real technical issues--cooling, costs, light color--there's the public's lingering distaste for compact fluorescent lamps, which failed miserably in their projected role as bulb of the future. That sentiment has fed into a Tea Party-fueled backlash against the new regulations, and there have been attempts in Congress to roll them back entirely.

The reasoning behind the lighting provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act is pretty straightforward: Incandescents convert less than 10 percent of the energy pumped into them into light, losing the rest as heat. More-efficient bulbs could save billions of dollars, decrease dependence on foreign oil, and significantly reduce greenhouse gases.


Posted by at September 14, 2011 6:48 AM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« COULD W HAVE MADE THE CONSPIRACY ANY CLEARER?: | Main | EVERY DAY HEROES: »