DOE’s solution to America’s Energy Future

By Scott Patterson

The U.S. Department of Energy while facing the conundrum of current economy downturn, tries to fortify the nation’s energy security and reduces carbon emissions, the solution that it has came up with is the implementation of solid-state lighting technology. DOE believes this emerging technology will be America’s answer to these three recent challenges.

Solid State lighting will bring a greener environment because homes and businesses will be consuming less electricity and thus they will be less dependent of fossil fuels. Solid-state lighting will be the answer to high-performance and high-efficient buildings by reducing energy costs and releasing less greenhouse gases when compared to the traditional incandescent and CFL alternative lighting sources.

The U.S. Department of Energy is being committed to realize these potential of solid-state lighting technologies, in solving the nation’s economic, safety and environmental challenges. With the cooperation with the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, becoming the leading federal agency to conduct and to direct all research development, and commercialize all efforts to accelerates the employment of this pioneering technology.

According to DOE (the U.S. Department of Energy), the implement of solid-state lighting is a lighting revolution. Solid-state lighting has the potential to reduce the lighting electricity use by one-fourth. Also, with the potential and promise to be ten times more efficient than the traditional incandescent light, LEDs and OLEDs are going to revolutionize the way we light our businesses and homes.

Some of the benefit for adapting solid-state lighting products including low power consumption, it is digitally controllable. Its longevity, durability, SSL products require very low maintenance; they also do not contain mercury or emit UR or IR radiation.

The effect on the whole nation is said to be greater. It is estimated that by year 2030. The adaption of solid-state lighting will reduce the lighting electricity consumed by the nation by one-fourth and approximately equals to 190 terawatt-hours, 15 billion dollars (adjusted for today’s inflation), and reduce the carbon gases emission equivalent to 21 million cars.

Energy-efficient solid-state lighting products is a smart way for DOE to solve the nation’s increasing carbon footprint. This solution not only provides a superior way to achieve higher performance lighting product but also to reduce household electricity costs and the consumption of fossil fuels.

DOE is trying to help the nation achieve the fullest potential of all solid-state lighting’s benefits. By working with a wide array of industry partners, DOE is tackling these problems such as overcoming the current technical and design barriers of the use of solid-state lighting technology. Together they are researching and developing and finding ways to commercialize this new technology, moving solid-state lighting products from the laboratories to the marketplace. The program also creates a competitive manufacturing atmosphere of solid-state lighting products in the United States. This will also create new green job opportunities.

Learning from the previous delayed acceptance of another energy-saving technology, the compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), DOE learned that they must tackle and overcome the quality and technical problems. Today the key involvement DOE focus on the aspect in improving solid-state lighting adaption is helping its industry to move to a higher level of efficiency and quality. For this purpose DOE has established a number of strategies to ensure consumer satisfaction with this emerging solid-state lighting technology and to accelerate the market to quickly accept this important technology.

From laboratory to the marketplace, DOE try to recognize and identify products that show a promising improvement in efficiency and a significant improvement in performance and assist these products to make a successful market introduction. DOE’s objective lies in achieving a foundation for introducing an important technical or design product breakthrough and ensure a successful market introduction.

Through research and development, DOE proves to work closely with energy efficient program partners. With over 200 researchers on more than 200 projects to accelerate the development of technology advancement, DOE’s program is designed to effectively move solid-state lighting into the market. Overcome technical and design barriers, since the year 2000, researchers and product developers have made great improvement over the efficacy of solid-state lighting products and luminaries.

With more and more solid-state lighting products appear on the market, DOE continue to tackle issues that limit performance. These researches focus on application of LED and OLED material technology, for example of getting an efficient green LED emitter, or more efficient blue-emitting OLED, and efficiently extract light from a LED chip. Improving the performance of phosphor, these issues continue to be DOE’s primary area of interest. As the knowledge and the advancement of new luminary’s design constantly improving, solid-state lighting is proving to be an environmentally robust and to be a lighting device that is consistent and can perform uniformly with a long product life. Thermal management and efficient electrical control are also DOE’s area of interest in improving solid-state lighting technology.

It is true with many LED products on the market, and their quality all varies greatly. This phenomenon is due to the unfamiliar of LED technology. Traditional lighting manufactures need time and still have much to learn about incorporating LEDs into their lighting fixtures. Solid-state lighting (SSL) like many previous lighting technology, it is a fast-growing market due to its impressive innovation. New technology has given birth to new companies breaking into the lighting business. These inexperienced companies are facing with engineering challenges that require advances and experience in applied research and design. LED lighting is unique in its size, controllability and color temperature and quality, all these tweaking require advance engineering background. 

Quality LED lighting luminaries require excellent design and integration of multiple components including LED arrays, electronic drivers, heat sinks, optics. Only after carefully integration of all these components, LED are commercialized into a lighting fixture, design of quality luminaries must pay attention to its thermal, optical and electrical characteristics. Given all these challenges, DOE works and assists both fixture and LED manufacturers to advance in product performance.

With a comprehensive support and commercialization strategies, namely product demonstration and consumer education, DOE and its industry partners accelerate the adaption for solid-state lighting technology in the marketplace and contribute to a greener and brighter America.

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