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Energy Efficiency University of Rochester Professor Chunlei Guo and his team say they've developed a process that makes traditional light bulbs super efficient.

Published on June 2nd, 2009 | by Dave Tyler

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Laser Treatment Could Make Plain Light Bulb Much More Efficient

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June 2nd, 2009 by  

University of Rochester Professor Chunlei Guo and his team say they\'ve developed a process that makes traditional light bulbs super efficient.

Could a regular light bulb end up being an energy efficient competitor to a compact fluorescent bulb? Researchers at the University of Rochester say yes.

[social_buttons] A team of optics researchers at the school say they’ve developed a process that makes a 100-watt incandescent bulb use less electricity than a 60-watt bulb. The process, they say, would keep the cost of a traditional light bulb well under that of its fluorescent counterpart while maintaining the more pleasant light an incandescent bulb gives off.

Professor Chunlei Guo  (pictured above) and his team developed a laser process that treats the tungsten filament in a traditional bulb. The process creates nano- and micro- level structures on the filament that dramatically improve its efficiency.

The process involves an incredibly short femtosecond laser pulse, which lasts only a few quadrillionths of a second.

“We knew it should work in theory,” says Guo, “but we were still surprised when we turned up the power on this bulb and saw just how much brighter the processed spot was.”

It’s not immediately clear how long it would take to commercialize the discovery. But the laser in the Rochester process can be powered by a standard wall outlet — meaning it could be relatively simple to implement in a manufacturing environment once refined.

Other technologies are also crowding the field. The U.S. Navy is promoting LED and HID lighting in its ships. Cambridge Researchers say they’ve developed a LED bulb that costs $3 and last 60 years. A technology called ESL is headed to market as well. It will be interesting to see if the Rochester process finds a place on store shelves.

Photo Credit: University of Rochester.

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About the Author

Dave has over a decade of experience in journalism covering a wide variety of topics. He spent 7 years on the business beat for the Rochester (N.Y) Democrat and Chronicle, covering technology issues including the state's growing green economy. When he's not writing, you'll find Dave enjoying his family, being a bit of a music snob, and praying that the Notre Dame football team can get its act together. He lives in Rochester.



  • http://www.ceolas.net Peter in Ireland

    Dave, thanks for the interesting news… wonder how they thought of it.

    But noone asks why we need to save energy anyway:

    Consumers can decide for themselves if energy savings are worth it compared to advantages of light bulbs

    (including compared to halogens, since light quality for example is still different, appearance differs, transformers may be needed etc)

    And society?

    1. Renewable energy sources already exist, and are increasingly deployed (solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal, biomass).

    2. Nuclear energy is long-lasting and potentially renewable (short-term via breeder reactors, long-term as nuclear fusion).

    3. When used for electricity, renewable/nuclear energy can relatively quickly be spread to other regions via grid interconnectors.

    4. As finite sources become scarcer, their price rises, reducing such consumption anyway, and the choice of renewable energy resources becomes more natural on the market place.

    Taxes or subsidies can of course speed up the effect before then.

    I extensively criticize the light bulb ban from

    http://ceolas.net/#li1x onwards

    – I’d be glad to know what you think!

    Peter

  • http://www.ceolas.net Peter in Ireland

    Dave, thanks for the interesting news… wonder how they thought of it.

    But noone asks why we need to save energy anyway:

    Consumers can decide for themselves if energy savings are worth it compared to advantages of light bulbs

    (including compared to halogens, since light quality for example is still different, appearance differs, transformers may be needed etc)

    And society?

    1. Renewable energy sources already exist, and are increasingly deployed (solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal, biomass).

    2. Nuclear energy is long-lasting and potentially renewable (short-term via breeder reactors, long-term as nuclear fusion).

    3. When used for electricity, renewable/nuclear energy can relatively quickly be spread to other regions via grid interconnectors.

    4. As finite sources become scarcer, their price rises, reducing such consumption anyway, and the choice of renewable energy resources becomes more natural on the market place.

    Taxes or subsidies can of course speed up the effect before then.

    I extensively criticize the light bulb ban from

    http://ceolas.net/#li1x onwards

    – I’d be glad to know what you think!

    Peter

  • http://www.ceolas.net Peter in Ireland

    Dave, thanks for the interesting news… wonder how they thought of it.

    But noone asks why we need to save energy anyway:

    Consumers can decide for themselves if energy savings are worth it compared to advantages of light bulbs

    (including compared to halogens, since light quality for example is still different, appearance differs, transformers may be needed etc)

    And society?

    1. Renewable energy sources already exist, and are increasingly deployed (solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal, biomass).

    2. Nuclear energy is long-lasting and potentially renewable (short-term via breeder reactors, long-term as nuclear fusion).

    3. When used for electricity, renewable/nuclear energy can relatively quickly be spread to other regions via grid interconnectors.

    4. As finite sources become scarcer, their price rises, reducing such consumption anyway, and the choice of renewable energy resources becomes more natural on the market place.

    Taxes or subsidies can of course speed up the effect before then.

    I extensively criticize the light bulb ban from

    http://ceolas.net/#li1x onwards

    – I’d be glad to know what you think!

    Peter

  • russ

    Include power factor considerations and power consumption is closer to a CFL or LED.

    The customer pays for power factor only indirectly but they do foot the bill in the end. You know the utility is not eating the loss.

    No mercury with the regular bulb either.

  • russ

    Include power factor considerations and power consumption is closer to a CFL or LED.

    The customer pays for power factor only indirectly but they do foot the bill in the end. You know the utility is not eating the loss.

    No mercury with the regular bulb either.

  • Dave Tyler

    Chris, you raise a fair point and after some review, the lead may have been poorly-worded. See my edit above. Thanks.

  • Chris R.

    Sorry, the details just don’t hold water.

    Compact fluorescent bulbs are typically 4 times as energy efficient as incandescents. That is, on average they use about 1/4th the energy for the same light output in lumens. (For what it’s worth, white LEDs tend to be about twice as efficient as CFs, or 8 times as efficient as incandescent).

    So, to be comparable to a CF, this new lightbulb would need to consume about 25 watts with the same light output as a 100 watt bulb.

  • Chris R.

    Sorry, the details just don’t hold water.

    Compact fluorescent bulbs are typically 4 times as energy efficient as incandescents. That is, on average they use about 1/4th the energy for the same light output in lumens. (For what it’s worth, white LEDs tend to be about twice as efficient as CFs, or 8 times as efficient as incandescent).

    So, to be comparable to a CF, this new lightbulb would need to consume about 25 watts with the same light output as a 100 watt bulb.

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