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Power Science

Researchers Create New Cheap, Shatterproof, Plastic Light Bulbs 296

hattig writes "US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. The developer is promising cheap, hard-to-break, mercury-free, highly efficient bulbs from 2013."
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Researchers Create New Cheap, Shatterproof, Plastic Light Bulbs

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  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:09AM (#42168221)

    I wonder what the lifespan of these bulbs is going to be ...
    The Light Bulb Conspiracy []

    The developer is promising cheap, hard-to-break, mercury-free, highly efficient bulbs

    Historically the three problems with EL have been color balance (or total lack thereof), lifespan (maybe a year at full power), and surface brightness (like forget "lamps" you'll need to cover the entire ceiling with illuminated panels to get modest room illumination).

    What the developer is promising has been off the shelf for at least 3 decades... What I listed is the really hard part.

  • Re:Cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:03AM (#42168799)

    What would the incentive to make such a device in a non-capitalistic economy?

    I don't think you realize how much cheap stuff we have today in America?

    If you look at prices today and that of 60 years ago and adjust of inflation we will see that a lot of the stuff of the past was more expensive then it is today. Heck we have a lot of things that would be excessively expensive back in the day. Our $200 cellphones would have cost millions of dollars for the same power. And they were paying a hefty price for the normal phones which we would be able to get for under $10.00.

    It isn't that businesses are making things more expensive it is that we as a culture are demanding more things.
    Back in the old days for your monthly bills
    Mortgage, Car, Power, Telephone.
    Mortgage, Car, Power, Telephone, Internet, Cell Phone, Cable TV, Netflix...

    Expected homes of the 1950 would be small 1000sq/ft homes. Once Car for the family, one Telephone and they will only call rarely,
    For power they would power lights, heat, the refrigerator, washer and dryer, and a TV. All ran on AC power, and most when not in use were turned off.

    If we were to live like we did during the 1950's we would have huge amounts of income stored up more then ever, because we would be living extremely modestly.

    It isn't that things got more expensive they actually gotten cheaper, we just got more things.

  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:06AM (#42168831) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me a light source that is inherently flat would be ideal for a display backlight. It probably won't make them much thinner than they already are, but it could make them less complex to produce and possibly more repairable (by replacing aged backlights).

    Also, being able to attach these directly to walls and ceilings rather than mounting brackets or cutting holes for lamps would allow a wider placement of light sources than is currently practical. I'd probably have (at least) one on every wall plus some on the ceiling, to make sure that I could get an ideal spread of light sources for whatever work I might be doing.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:07AM (#42168835) Homepage Journal

    LED lights are still pretty pricy, so if this technology can bring the cost of the lamps back down towards what incandescents cost, there's a use for it. Also, if it's actually "white-emitting" that will be a big improvement since CFLs ain't. Doubt it though.

    Have you seen white LED street lamps? I have, and they work perfectly

    I've seen a lot of partially-failed LED street lamps, which is how I know that the technology hasn't really been refined yet.

  • by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:20AM (#42168983)

    Is issue isn't if the Old People are Right or Wrong, but their reasoning for their decision.

    Often the argument is driven by a nostalgic emotional attachment, and not by any rational measuring of the advantages vs disadvantages.

    A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off, vs. the harsher unleaded gasoline smell. Is a slightly better smell while filling your tank worth having hazardous chemicals in the air, and a residue that can get on your hands that is harmful as well?

    Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition. Does the difference in taste and a minor improvement in nutrition outweigh the serious illnesses you can get from it?

    If you go across hating everything, you can always nitpick and hang onto that one redeeming feature no matter how minor it is. Or you can jump on the bandwagon and say everything that comes out is immediately superior. Or you can just be balanced and actually stop thinking you are an expert in everything, and try it out, and/or read about it from many sources and judge for yourself if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    I think the milk is a bad analogy. It only affects the person consuming it, unlike low power light bulbs or leaded gasoline. If someone wants to eat something that is potentially hazardous, that's their business.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:29AM (#42169103) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off

    I never heard this before, and I'm not buying it. When I started driving all gas was leaded, and it all stank. It's also all toxic, just with one fewer toxin (and fewer mentally retarded kids; that's what lead does).

    The reson that folks bitched about unleaded gas the lower octane, and some older cars (particularly high powered cars) needed to be de-tuned to run unleaded or holes would burn in the pistons (the lower the octane the faster it burns) and some had problems with intake valves, as the soft lead acted as a kind of bumper.

    Run that 92 octane leaded gas in your new car and you'll burn out your exhaust valves, because it will still be burning when the valve opens.

    Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition.

    I don't drink much if any milk any more, but I do remember my garndpa's farm and drinking the fresh, unpasteurized milk. It did indeed taste better. Do vegetables not taste different when cooked? So does milk. But I wouldn't want to drink it from one of the filthy factory farms they have today.

    Pasteurized eggnog is worthless -- there's an emzyme in raw egg yolk that kills hangovers, and heat destroys the emzyme. When I was a kid, folks made their own eggnog -- but the FDA did a better job and farmers weren't so greedy that they didn't care of their customers got poisoned. Now drinking home made eggnog is almost certain to give you a bellyache and the runs, and maybe even a hospital stay unless you raise the chickens yourself.

    That said, I never could understand my mom's dad, who was dead set against getting indoor plumbing. Even after my uncle built a bathroom, Grandpa still went out in the snow to the outhose.

    Old people are crazy. But so are young people, just a different kind of crazy.

  • by CnlPepper ( 140772 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:55PM (#42170253)

    He said mitigated, not prevented. I've (unintentionally) measured the oscillating light output of an incandescent while I was developing an optical trigger circuit for my last job, the intensity dropped by ~20% for this particular bulb (20W desk lamp) during the AC zero crossing. The flickering was 100Hz (funnily enough) - higher than most peoples' periphery will notice.

  • The Democrats in the United States are actually centrists by the standards of most countries. The liberals in America don't have any political power while their far-right counterparts have completely taken over the Republican Party. Look at the "socialist" health care plan passed by the Democrats. The heart of the plan is the very conservative idea of individual responsibilityâ"the individual mandate was a conservative idea until the Democrats embraced it, at which point it suddenly became a socialist plot against Americans. A true liberal would have pushed for a one-payer system.

    And so it goes.

  • Re:Cheap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:15PM (#42170485) Homepage

    You're forgetting something - while your thesis that food costs are directly associated with fuel costs is correct, the reason that this is true is because fossil fuels comprise a large portion of the energy budget of food production.

    From a CNN article []:

    Doing away with food imports could be seen as understandable if international transport played a dominant role in the food chain's greenhouse gas emissions.

    But in the UK 's case -- where much of the research into the "food miles" concept has taken place -- that doesn't seem to be the case. A sturdy 85 percent of UK food transport-related emissions actually derive from domestic road deliveries according to the DFID. Road freight traffic in the UK grew by 67 percent between 1980 and 2001, with the average journey length also increasing by 40 percent.

    By comparison, international freight contributes 11 percent of UK food transport-related emissions -- that's less than one-tenth of one percent of the UK 's overall emissions, the DFID says.

    Transportation as a whole contributes 2.5 percent of the food chain's emissions, says FCRN. Food refrigeration, on the other hand, accounts for as much as 18 percent (and notably 3.5 percent of the UK 's entire greenhouse gas emissions).

    The whole transport issue initially came to the fore after the "food miles" concept was coined in Europe to illustrate how fossil fuel-intensive the global food distribution network had become.

    But the relative blame that the transport sector should be taking for this is debatable.

    In the U.S., up to 20 percent of the country's fossil fuel consumption goes into the food chain, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which points out that fossil fuel use by the food systems in the developed world "often rivals that of automobiles".

    To feed an average family of four in the developed world uses up the equivalent of 930 gallons of gasoline a year -- just shy of the 1,070 gallons that same family would use up each year to power their cars.

    The average developed world diet uses 1,600 liters of fossil fuels each year, according to the U.S. based Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Only 256 of those liters come from transporting the food, says OCA.

    By contrast, a whopping 496 liters goes into the chemical fertilizers used during the food growing stage, representing well over one third of the food chain's entire fossil fuel consumption.

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @04:18PM (#42172511)

    Ah, my mistake. I didn't realize his house had 400-mile ceilings. (186000 miles/sec, divided by 240 half-cycles per second to map maximum to minimum-intensity phase, divided by 2 because it's a round trip.)

    There is no way that bouncing light off the walls can reduce flicker, unless the flicker is in the megahertz range (in which case it WILL NOT be perceptible), or the walls are coated with a phosphor that has significant persistence. (And even in that case, the light isn't "bouncing" off the walls, but being absorbed and re-emitted.)

    In fact, if GGP's golden eyes were truly that sensitive to flicker, I'd expect bouncing the light off the ceiling to make things worse, because then the flickering light would completely fill his peripheral vision, which of course is far more sensitive than central vision to flicker and motion.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:18PM (#42175431) Homepage Journal

    In both those cases, though, there's a large entity that should be responsible, but isn't being held responsible:

    • For global warming, the power consumption is not the problem. The production methodology is the problem. If our power were produced 100% by solar and wind, with a superconducting grid, there would be basically no additional pollution caused by additional usage (ignoring any pollution caused by the manufacture of the power production and transmission hardware, but at some point in time, that becomes a sunk cost).
    • For plastic bags, it is the responsibility of the property owner to keep things clean. And so on. In both cases, the laws are trying to treat the symptom instead of the actual cause.

    BTW, I can't say I've seen many plastic bags floating around Wal-Mart parking lots. Maybe you just live in an area where people suck. :-D

    You're right about the cost of the bags being spread out across all of the merchandise, of course. But the numbers don't add up for most people. On average, that bag costs about four cents to the retailer. On average, a similarly sized trash bag costs about a quarter. So at about 16% reuse, the grocery bags end up being cheaper. My reuse percentages are at least that high, because I typically pick up plastic bags only when I'm carrying lots of small things and don't waste them on single items or on large items like milk or soda bottles. I certainly can't speak for others in that matter. (Admittedly, this minimal approach to bag consumption is directly correlated with the trend towards self-check registers at stores; baggers at stores tend to overbag; one could probably say, then, that my minimal consumption of plastic bags is caused by me being lazy, but I prefer to put a positive spin on it.)

    Also, the factor of six cost difference between the "free" bags and the bags you actually buy in stores is largely because the actual trash bags are made of thicker plastic and have to be transported across the country inside cardboard boxes that add considerable weight and volume. When you add up the extra fuel burned as a result, even if only a couple of percent of those grocery bags are reused as trash bags, I would expect those anti-bag laws to have an overall negative impact on the environment as a whole. The impact just isn't as visible without the plastic bags floating in the streams, because you can't see global warming. And if you include the additional trash burden from the thicker bags and extra cardboard boxes, the negative impact should be even greater.

    But I digress.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine