Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

VOSPAD - The benchmark for home LED's

Several years ago a german lighting designer started with the doing his pad up with LED's. The results are easier seen than described. Ofcourse LED's have come a long way since this and it is possible to better this with todays devices and reduce the cost. The site itself can be accessed here.

LRC elevator LED lighting

The LRC at NY (also the oldest technical collage in the US) has been testing LED based elevator lighting. The high intensity fixtures used now have a life span of 40,000 hours and consume 45 % less power than the existing lights. LRC hopes to commercialize the design soon.

Jean Paul Freyssinier, an LRC research assistant professor says “LEDs are an ideal light source for elevators because their rugged design can withstand the vibrations and motions of the cabin,” The six LED downlights required a total of 165 watts of electricity, compared with 300 watts for the original incandescent downlights, for an energy savings of 45 percent. The illuminance levels inside the elevator cabin were similar between each type of downlight. As an added benefit, the LED fixtures are expected to last 40,000 hours, or more than four years being on all day, every day. Compared with traditional incandescent fixtures in elevators, which operate between 1,500 and 2,500 hours, LEDs can provide cost savings for replacement and maintenance, says Freyssinier. And because LEDs typically do not fail outright (their light output slowly decreases instead), maintenance crews can plan for relamping, rather than having to respond to lamp failures as they occur.

A survey conducted inside the original and LED-modified elevators showed that passengers ranked the low-profile LED installation as consistently better in terms of visibility, comfort, color and attractiveness of the light.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Business Gyan

All pioneering businesses try to understand what the consumer wants and will pay for. In my own case we have taken opinions from various people who come to us or we meet. While some of the suggestions and feedback have been invaluble, bulk of the feedback is not based on their understanding of what we are actually doing or trying to do. IMHO it is probably a better idea to discard all but the most pertinent suggestions at the risk of discarding some genuine insights. Two quotes that capture this in a nutshell are below

Henry ford:
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse."

Alice (actually Scott Adams who has taught me more management than any MBA course via Dlibert):

What the customers want is better products for free.

Clean water from cow dung- Slingshot

Everyone knows that Dean Kamen is a real creative guy (remember the Segway) who is often far ahead ofthe rest of the pack. A new initiative by him in collaboration with Iqbal Quadir (of Grameen phone fame) aims to provide clean water from cow dung. The solution is a combination of a power plant powered by biomass (cow dung is one of the things that it can burn) and a water purifier powered by it. Trials are on in Bangladesh and the device seems to have an economic model as well.
As ever the innovation is in the execution. Quadir is also a visionary who buys into distributed power as a kind of democratic principle. Some quotes below.
Instead of putting up a 500-megawatt power plant in a developing country, he argues, it would be much better to place 500,000 one-kilowatt power plants in villages all over the place, because then you would create 500,000 entrepreneurs.

"Isn't that better for democracy?" Quadir asks. "We see a shortage of democracy in the world, and we are surprised. If you strengthen the economic hands of people, you will foster real democracy."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nanomaterials for clean Loo's

Even the most ardent environmentalist wants a clean bathroom and toiled irrespective of the actual process of getting a modern washroom clean. The plethora of chemicals and detergents used, the amount of piped water used are some of the constituents of your toilet cleaning power bills. Looks like the solution is around the corner.

Best Syndication reports:
Researchers from University of New South Wales, Australia, are working on developing a coating that may make cleaning bathrooms less of a chore.

The lead researchers Professor Rose Amal and Professor Michael Brungs of the ARC Centre for Functional Nanomaterials, are hoping to apply a coating of tiny particles of titanium dioxide to keep the toilets clean. Currently the titanium dioxide is being used on outdoor items like self-cleaning windows.

How it works is that ultraviolet light below a specific wavelength causes electrons to excite and this gives the effects of oxidation. This oxidation disinfects better than commercial bleach. It makes it better for sanitation as it is continually cleaning instead of waiting for the janitor.

To further keep the bathroom clean, nanoparticles kill microbes and remove organic compounds. The titanium dioxide contains ‘superhydrophilicity’ which makes it so liquid droplets do not form on the surface. It makes the liquid run off and washes as it drips off.

The researchers are faced with one dilemma for making the titanium dioxide coating to work indoors. The coating is activated by ultraviolet sunlight, and they need to be able to activate the titanium dioxide with indoor lighting. In order to make it work indoors, they are trying to modify the chemical compound by adding other elements like iron or nitrogen so it can use light of a longer wavelength.

Looks like all bathrooms will now have titanium surfaces with UV LED's initiating the cleanup based on occupancy.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Lighting Manufactures for a free and open market.

Patent issues in the LED space have been contentions and have been covered in this blog on several occasions. While genuine innovations can and should be protected, it is emerging that the Patent office is not qulafied to either understand or issue patents in this field. Color Kinetics and other such companies are constantly trying to patent broad concepts that are a kind of theft from the commons due to tons of prior art. An industry alliance has now be formed to take on this menace and protect real innovations from such predatory practices. Such practices will bring in GPL type licenses in this field as well. More details can be had here.
Previous posts that covered patent issues are
Patent Pending
Open standards, patents and society
Patents killing science ?
Small companies fight for a foothold in white LED sector

The art of war : Strategies on energy conservation

Sun Tzu who wrote the "The art of war" starts off by saying that the best general is one who can avoid the war in the first place. Hardly surprising that he was from China. Looks like the Chinese are still blessed with thinkers of the same mould, when you look at the energy conservation stratergies they have adopted. While they are investing heavily in power generation, they are following it up with increasing efficiency in consumption, starting with Lighting.

Silicon Valley's Robert C. Walker observes :

"China will be the first country to adopt the solid-state lighting revolution," Walker says. "You're going to see China first, the rest of Asia second, Europe third and the U.S. last in adopting that technology."

China's government has pressing reasons for embracing solid-state lighting, which in the West is still a fringe technology. Prime among them is the fact that LEDs will consume roughly 50% to 80% less energy than conventional (incandescent and fluorescent) lights. Rapid economic growth is already outstripping China's ability to supply energy. According to Wu Ling, the dynamic former medical doctor who directs the China Solid-State Lighting Alliance, a Beijing nonprofit organization that develops strategy for the government, 12% of electricity currently goes to lighting. Wu estimates that if over the next ten years LEDs were to take 30% of China's lighting market, then the saving would be 58 billion kilowatt-hours per year. She points out that that is almost as much as the yearly output of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest power plant, under construction at a cost of $24 billion.

"Faced with a great shortage of energy, the government will push solid-state lighting," Wu says. And in China when the mandarins want something to happen, they have all sorts of ways of making sure that it does. Top-down strategies include financing, both direct and indirect. Wu expects Beijing's next five-year plan, to be announced at the end of October, to contain a major increase in spending on solid-state lighting R&D at Chinese universities and national institutes (up from the $17 million spent since the project began in January 2003). Wu estimates that $725 million has thus far been invested in China's domestic solid-state lighting industry. Some of this is private investment, but industry insiders believe much of the money has come from government banks in the form of soft loans to LED startups. Regulations--in both positive and negative forms--are another powerful lever. For example, officials can mandate that LEDs be used for certain applications, such as the illumination of tourist landmarks like Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Or, where the codes haven't caught up with technology, authorities can turn a blind eye to early adoption. Our conversations with the renewable energy bodies in India are encouraging but fall short of any real help :)

The Chinese government has also outlawed all non-LED based portable lighting in the mining industry as LED's can save lives dues to reliability.
All this makes one wonder why other developing countries haven't thought this through. Billions of dollars are borrowed and earmarked for power generation. Entire riparian ecosystems and cultures are destroyed to make way for these projects only to waste the power due to lack of vision. Sometimes i wonder if working toward a macro strategy is only possible in enlightened authoritarian setups. The yin yang juxtaposition is most clearly visible between the Asian giants India and china in such matters. Some sort of "Zen and the art of electric lighting". Way to go China!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Political Economics

Why does this ring so true ? ;-)

The primary requisite for any new tax law is for it to exempt enough voters to win the next election.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Look who is talking

The US president, in this annual address to the nation, has called for a reduction in US conusmption of imported oil. The light at the end of the tunnel is apparently something called 'better technology' which will make the oil economy thing of the past. Pardon my cynicism. Some initiatives seem to include

A six-year goal for making the alternative fuel ethanol practical and competitive, and vowed to fund additional research into ways to make ethanol not just from the commonly used corn but also from wood-chips or grasses.

The goal, he said, is to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Critics doubted Bush ever really severed his ties from the oil industry and were skeptical he would put the kind of effort into conservation and alternative-fuel research they say is needed. His previous energy initiatives have had little impact on prices or supplies.

This is like Al Capone making a speech favouring prohibition. The president's connections to the oil industry are well known. While the ethanol factor looks good on paper, fact of the matter is that corn ethanol is a petrochemical based industry and not really renewable like Jethropa oil et al. Some of these factors have been explored here and here.