Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Free Markets, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation, Science/Technology, United Kingdom | Tags: CFLs - hallogens - LEDs, Crony Capitalism, MIT Researchers
The incandescent light bulb. Gone, but not forgotten
— February 28, 2014 Popular Mechanics
Incandescent era, RIP. Like it or not, it’s time to move on. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are gone—not banned, precisely, but phased out because the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, requires them to be about 25 percent more efficient. That’s impossible to achieve without decreasing their luminous flux (brightness), so, instead, manufacturers have shifted to more energy-efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), halogens, and LEDs.
Wikipedia has a page entitled “Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs” the first sentence says: “Governments Have Passed Measures”
Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.
This one was really a case of crony capitalism or a couple of very large corporations who used the power of government to force Americans to buy a new product that cost up to 10 times more than the old reliable bulbs. The profit margin on the new bulbs is significantly higher. Any environmental benefits were largely hooey, but the manufacturers got to pretend they were “saving the planet.”
The problem was that nobody liked the replacements, and the environmentalists insisted that the bulbs had to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. I don’t know about you, but the recycling enthusiasts are going way too far, and I can see a reckoning coming. People just wanted their friendly, cheap, satisfactory bulbs back.
The people may win. Scientists at MIT believe they may have come up with a solution which could see incandescent bulbs return to the marketplace — better and cheaper and more efficient.
MIT researchers have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat — while still allowing the light to come through. They call the technique “recycling light” because the energy that would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light. “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted.”
Traditional incandescent bulbs are only about five percent efficient with 95 percent of the energy lost to the atmosphere. LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent, achieving near-ideal rendering of colors.
If the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost far less than the hated LEDs and CFL bulbs. Researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and there have been concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.
Luboš Motl explains the physics at the reference frame, for those who want more details, and there’s a picture of the prototype — which isn’t the bulb pictured above.
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