DOE to make new investments in energy efficient lighting

Building on his focus on energy efficiency in his first few days in office, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced five manufacturing research and development projects to support energy efficient lighting products.

The projects will focus on reducing manufacturing costs, while continuing to improve the quality and performance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

Today’s LED lighting is six or seven times more efficient than conventional lighting and can last up to 25 times longer. The Department of Energy’s $10 million investment is matched dollar for dollar by private sector funding.

“This partnership with industry to produce affordable, efficient lighting will save consumers money and create American jobs,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “It’s another example of how energy efficiency is a win-win proposition for our economy.”

According to a new report by the DOE, LED lamps and fixtures installed in the U.S. have increased 10-fold over the last 2 years — from 4.5 million units in 2010 to 49 million units in 2012.

These installations, which include common indoor and outdoor applications such as recessed lighting and streetlights, are expected to save about $675 million in annual energy costs. During the same period, the cost of an LED replacement bulb has fallen by about 54 percent.

Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs and reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent. By 2030, LED lighting is projected to represent about 75 percent of all lighting sales, saving enough energy to power about 26 million U.S. households.

Still, while life-cycle costs are attractive, the initial price of LED and OLED lighting is currently higher than the price of traditional lighting. The projects announced today will help achieve significant cost reductions in manufacturing equipment and processes, while improving lighting quality and performance:

Cree Inc. (Durham, N.C.; $2.3 million DOE investment) — This project will develop a modular design for LED lights that can link together multiple units to fit larger areas. The design will also use less raw material, reducing manufacturing costs while ensuring high lighting quality and efficiency. Cree’s approach will design and manufacture the different components of an LED fixture — including electrical, mechanical and optical systems — as one, seamless product, helping to further reduce assembly costs and ensure strong performance.

Eaton Corp. (Menomonee Falls, Wisc.; $2.4 million DOE investment) — The Eaton project will develop an innovative manufacturing process that streamlines the LED fixture design and removes unnecessary materials and parts. With this approach, the LED chip can sit directly on the heatsink, improving heat transfer within the design and increasing LED efficiency.

OLEDWorks, LLC (Rochester, N.Y.; $1 million DOE investment) — Organic LEDs, or OLEDs, are typically assembled through transfer or screen printing. The OLEDWorks project will develop and demonstrate new spray printing equipment that reduces overall manufacturing costs and could help support cost-competitive mass production. This technique will give manufacturers greater spray control to take full advantage of expensive organic materials and maximize the visible light produced from this material.

Philips Lumileds (San Jose, Calif.; $1.8 million DOE investment) — Most LEDs are grown on a sapphire substrate. Through this project, Philip Lumileds will develop an alternative to the standard flip-chip device that grows an LED face-down on the sapphire substrate. Before light can shine through, this substrate must be carefully etched off the device. The Philips Lumileds device will treat the sapphire substrate so that removing the substrate is not necessary — reducing manufacturing costs without compromising lighting quality.

PPG Industries, Inc. (Pittsburgh, $2.3 million investment) — Organic LEDs are typically printed on a high-quality glass substrate and then attached to various conductive layers. The PPG Industries project will develop a cost-effective manufacturing process to help commercialize an integrated substrate that includes the glass foundation as well as the other necessary layers. The project will also use standard grade glass, lowering costs while maintaining performance. Commercially-available and low-cost integrated substrates will help build a reliable, high-quality supply chain for this emerging industry.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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