Ge Lightbulbs
Professor advocates building better GE lightbulbs

Professor advocates building better GE lightbulbs

The days seem numbered for the light bulb you're using to read this story.

Corporations and universities worldwide are racing to develop light-emitting diodes as a cheap, energy-efficient replacement for the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs that light most rooms now.

The U.S. Senate is considering a $480 million proposal to fund more research into LEDs -- a proposal based in part on research by a Hobart and William Smith Colleges professor.

The Next Generation Lighting Initiative Act would link the research at private industry with universities and national laboratories, and inject federal money into the studies.

"It's kind of a race by the different lighting companies. They all know this is going to be huge," said Thomas Drennen, an assistant economics professor at Hobart and William Smith.

Drennen, along with Jeffrey Tsao at Sandia National Laboratories and Ronald Haitz of Agilent Technologies Inc., did a study on the lighting market and the energy savings possible with LEDs.

That study was used to help craft the bill before the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, according to the office of Sen. Jeffrey Bingaman, D-N.M.

General Electric Co. unveiled LEDs in 1962, with the first products arriving in the late '60s. Now you find them everywhere: digital clocks, traffic lights, even the NASDAQ sign in Times Square. But having them emit white light—so they can illuminate a room—so far remains out of reach.

Lighting eats up 16 to 19 percent of the nation's generated electricity.

The incandescent bulb commonly found in lamps lasts 1,000 hours and gives off a lot of heat. Fluorescent bulbs have a much longer lifespan and are about five times more efficient.

"The incandescent bulb is hopelessly out of date," Drennen said. "The hope is these lights will be 10 times more efficient than incandescents and twice as efficient as fluorescents."

Author Notes:

Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to  Find online lightbulbs like Halogen, Projector, Tanning Bed, Fluorescent, Automotive and much more.

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