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DoE Announces 'L Prize' For Solid-State Lighting 220

erikaaboe notes that the US Department of Energy has announced a competition to develop efficient solid-state lighting technology. The "L Prize" program will allocate as much as $20 million in cash prizes for innovations to replace the common light bulb. Further details are available at the L Prize website. From the press release: "Lighting products meeting the competition requirements would consume just 17% of the energy used by most incandescent lamps in use today. The plan also includes a rigorous evaluation process, including testing of proposed products by independent laboratories (conducted through DOE's CALiPER test program), as well as field evaluations by DOE and utility partners to assess products in real world conditions. Four major California utilities ... have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE, agreeing to work cooperatively to promote high-efficiency solid-state lighting technologies."
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DoE Announces 'L Prize' For Solid-State Lighting

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  • Sooo..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gruturo ( 141223 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:18AM (#23597259)
    DoE had $20M to offer for this contest, but couldn't find $4M to save Fermilab [] ?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of energy efficient lightning, but what the hell?

    • Re:Sooo..... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:38AM (#23597319)
      I'd scoff, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're trolling brilliantly. What follows is clearly for the benefit of others. IF they pay the $20 M out, the savings to the economy, in just the US, could be measured in major fractions of a TRILLION. Not that Fermilab isn't very worth while, even critical, but it's more of a high risk, high reward extremely long term investment. You know, like investigating the photoelectric effect.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bytesex ( 112972 )
        I think if you gave fermilab $20KK and told them to come up with this new lamp though, that you would be certain of the outcome. Whereas now, it's up in the air a bit.
        • Yes, but ... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:18AM (#23597469) Journal
          the L prize gives nothing out UNTIL something is found. So the truth is, that the L-prize really costs nothing except for real results.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Vectronic ( 1221470 )
          And that is probably a good thing.

          If FermiLab (or a single organization/company) was designated as "you do this, no one else" then you would end up with basically a monopoly, FermiLab (or whatever) sells/gives the patents, etc to a few major or maybe only one major company (GE or whatever) done deal.

          The "L Prize" means that quite a few companies are aiming for that star, one will get the prize, thus funding, and other benifits, but, the second third and probably even further down on the list get recognition
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Solid-State lighting is already fairly common, at least in Canada

            Ah. that explains what makes Canadian chicks look cool.

        • by mrcaseyj ( 902945 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:55AM (#23597631)
          The success of the X-Prize seems to have made everyone crazy about prizes to stir development. But it seems to me that the X-Prize only worked great because there were some very special characteristics about the commercial manned suborbital launch vehicle problem. I think there were two primary reasons the X-Prize was successful.

          The main reason was that there was no need to develop any new technology. It was only necessary for previously developed tech to be implemented cheaply. Any great NEW technology like efficient light bulbs or a cancer cure or whatever will usually have such a huge payoff to its developer that a few extra million isn't likely to add much extra incentive. If funders think it can be done then they'll fund it even without the prize. If those who would fund it see it as a long shot then the prize won't change the equation much.

          The other reason the X-Prize was successful was that it wasn't clear that a manned suborbital rocket could be profitable. Boeing or Lockheed could have easily built such a rocket. If they thought it would be profitable then why wouldn't they? Maybe they thought that anything less than a very careful and therefore prohibitively expensive development project would have left their deep pockets open to excessive liability. Again, concerns like this are not a problem for a lighting technology or a cancer cure or an efficient car technology.

          Oh well, best of luck anyway. Even if these prizes are a waste at least they aren't wasting all that much in the grand scheme of things.

          • by bhima ( 46039 ) *
            The crypto crowd is also very enthusiastic about using prizes and contests to develop new things. But I have no idea what that may suggest about the similarity of Rocket Science and Cryptography.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jank1887 ( 815982 )
            Actually, it's not the X-Prize driving these. It was the DARPA grand challenge (the one with the autonomous vehicles). Off the top of my head, I don't recall which pre-dates which, but the success (and notoriety) of the DARPA prize program has led the powers at be to give authority for additional prize programs in other areas. DoD is currently sponsoring a Wearable Power prize program, and I'm not at all surprised to see DOE get in on the deal as well.
          • Exactly. The payout for getting someone into space, or near space, isn't directly noticeable. Maybe 20 years down the road trans-oceanic flights will be done at near space altitudes, because of the projects that we do now. But it's not something you can directly make large profits at right now. If you design an efficient light bulb (what's wrong with CFLs and LEDs?), you can immediately bring it to market and sell a lot of units, and make a lot of money. Same goes with a drug to cure cancer. I'm sure
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gmack ( 197796 )
              I'm not opposed to CFL since I've replaced the incandescent bulbs everywhere except the chandeliers, fridge and stove with CFL.

              My large problems are the chandeliers. I tried LED but they were too dim and I can't use CFL because they would e just plain ugly plus they are on a variable dimmer and CFL only seem to do well on two stage dimmers.

              So yeah .. more options are needed.
          • by kabocox ( 199019 )
            The success of the X-Prize seems to have made everyone crazy about prizes to stir development. But it seems to me that the X-Prize only worked great because there were some very special characteristics about the commercial manned suborbital launch vehicle problem. I think there were two primary reasons the X-Prize was successful.

            Um, your two reasons for the X prize don't ring true to me. Why? Because it seems like most of the groups competing were doing/going to do the project any way. The X-Prize was just
        • that you would be certain of the outcome.
          If that certainty was that you would have cost overruns and a request for more money at the end of the project...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
      I imagine that the DoE's political remit doesn't go beyond using up fossil resources a tiny bit slower. We'll switch to promoting new sources when the ruling dynasties have switched enough of their portfolios away from oil.
    • Re:Sooo..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:37AM (#23597541) Homepage
      Fermilab didn't need "saving"

      The $5mil was a tiny part of their total budget, and the lab was inevitably going to be downsized considerably next year, once the Tevatron is shut down.

      Also, energy-efficient lighting is a higher priority than particle physics for the DOE at the moment. Given the energy/oil crunch at the moment, it only makes sense that they're funneling a larger portion of their money into short-term projects to find new methods of generation and energy conservation, rather than funding "hard science," which technically isn't even their job to do in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      In all seriousness I would say this is a much better way to spend that money. A solid state light with low energy consumption would have immense impacts for todays hot topic of global warming, not to mention that if it doesn't work then it won't cost them a thing, they will only pay if its successful. Also, given the LHC it makes sense to reduce spending on Fermilab slightly nowadays.
    • Many of these decisions are made by Congress, not DOE. As part of the President's Budget submission, DOE submits a budget proposal to Congress. Congress then goes through that budget. As part of their Constitutional duties, Congress frequently says "you're spending too much money here, not enough there." Congress passes the budget, and the President generally signs it. DOE is then stuck with the budget it is given. While DOE has some discretion in moving money around because of unforeseen circumstance
    • by _14k4 ( 5085 )
      No, the DoE purchases an insurance policy that pays on completion of the prize...
  • Err , LEDs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:19AM (#23597267) Homepage
    Am I missing something or have they forgotten about white LEDs which are making pretty rapid inroads into general lighting? They're far more efficient that incandescent or strip lights.
    • first one there wins 20M$ ? This is a race, not a technology competition ...
    • i like LED lighting, and as small as LED lights are what i would like to see to replace my florescent shop lights is something like a flat panel of led lights three or four foot long by one foot wide and only a quarter to half inch thick that can be mounted to the ceiling...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Google for "led grow lights" and you'll see plenty of panels. I'm using a fluorescent set-up at the minute but can't wait for LED to become more mainstream. And I'm not even growing pot, just capsicum.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is that all you care about? Efficiency? What about the fact that the light looks too blue or green and is therefore displeasing, and won't be quickly adopted? I haven't switched to CFL's because quite frankly, they suck.
      • Re:Err , LEDs? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @08:27AM (#23598065) Journal
        Spectrum is one legit problem with LEDs. In general it's difficult to get full spectrum lighting from LEDs - but it IS possible. The problem right now is although LEDs have the best Lumen/Watt efficiency, they have the worst Lumen/Dollar ratio.

        Regarding CFLs... I was at the hardware store getting stuff to fix a lamp and decided to put down $5 for a pair of 23W CFLs (7000 lumen/100W equivalent). I have to say that, having owned one of the very early CFL types several years ago and being very disappointed with it, I was VERY surprised at these new ones. Instant-on brightness was equal to the 100W incandescent it replaced, and it actually got BRIGHTER after a minute or so. The light has a slight tint to it - not quite as "yellow" as sunlight but not white/blueish like the 4' tubes in most offices.

        All I can say is give it a try. Made a believer out of me.
      • It's only so noticeable because most incandescent and flourescent tubes are pretty yellow anyway. It's hard to find a really white light bulbs. Once all the lights have a slight blue tinge, it won't even be noticable.
    • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:49AM (#23597355) Homepage Journal
      I expect they'll get there eventually, but they're not practical for regular home or office lighting yet.

      They work great for flashlights, and the headlight and taillight on my bike use LEDs.

      But I researched LED lights a couple months ago, and found that a "60 watt replacement" LED light was expected to cost well over a hundred dollars, and at that time was still in development, and not yet available.

      I finally settled for a couple twisty bulbs, but I'm not too happy about it because they contain mercury.

      I'm also not too happy that the mercury warning on the package just advised me to dispose of them "according to local laws". As if it would be OK to let the mercury into the groundwater if there wasn't a law specifically against doing so!

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )
        But surely the price will come down when mass production of these kicks off. Almost every new technology is expensive when its only just been released onto the market.
        • right now CFL's aren't worth the energy they save. In order to save on costs the actual life of the lamp is considerably shorter than what you expect too. Plus you have the fact that CFL's have mercury in them that you are dumping right into a landfill.

          CFl's in general aren't worth the time or money today.

          LED's suck for other reasons. notably you can't predict their failure rate, especially when mass produced. Normally if it doesn't fail within the first 6 months of use your good but I have seen LED's f
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

            CFL's aren't worth the energy they save

            Here, a 60W incandescent costs around 50p and lasts about six months. A 20W CF costs about £3-5. I don't know how long they last because I haven't yet had to replace any of the ones I bought four years ago, but we'll say four years for the sake of argument. Over four years, the capital cost of incandescents is £4, while the cost of CFs is £3-5. If you run it for two hours a day, then you are saving 58kWhs, which is about £6-10 (depending on a lot of facto

            • by dickens ( 31040 )
              Wally-world has packs of four store-brand 23W CF (and smaller) for ~US$10. That sounded like a magic number to me, so I replaced every bulb in my (modest) house except for some pesky candelabra-base bulbs here and there.
          • by asc99c ( 938635 )
            Huh?!? Almost every light in the everyday rooms in my house is now a CFL of some kind (except decorative halogen stuff). Decent versions get to full brightness almost immediately and last a very long time. My old house had 50 year old wiring and blew over a dozen incandescents in the dining room ceiling light (which took 5 40W bulbs) over 18 months. We switched to CFLs and that fitting did blow one bulb, but that's the only bulb I've replaced in 5 years of using them.

            If you live in the UK, the B&Q o
            • by dickens ( 31040 )
              I've also gotten better reliability from the new crop of CF bulbs. The two lamps on either side of my front door get a big vibration shock every time someone slams the door, so they don't last long. I've used drop-light bulbs in them before which last a couple of years maybe. Last winter when I was on my CF replacement kick I tried them in these outdoor fixtures too and they've been fine so far, including surviving sub-zero startups.

              And regarding the slow startup? I have the same brand of bulb in base-u
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Larsrc ( 1285062 )
        Check out, they have them available. No, not down to CF prices yet, but significantly more efficient.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )

        But I researched LED lights a couple months ago, and found that a "60 watt replacement" LED light was expected to cost well over a hundred dollars, and at that time was still in development, and not yet available.
        Errr, I see spot bulbs composed of a dozen of lights, claiming to output as much light as a 60W incandescent bulb, for 3 euros at my local store... Is there some factor I am missing ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nmg196 ( 184961 ) *
          Yeah - they're lying, or you were mistaken. They either weren't LED bulbs (probably CFL) or they weren't 60W output. There is currently no commercially available 60W equiv LED bulb for anything like this price.
          • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
            I got this catalog from a serious French retailer : []

            It states : 12 candelas, 120 degrees. From an online converter I found, it amounts to 37 lumens.

            I found this page : [] which states that a typical 60 W light bulb emits between 600 and 900 lumens. So 20 of these LEDs would do it, and would cost 16 euros at this retailer (known to practice quite high prices)

            A friend of mine was really interested in
      • There is 60 times more mercury in the battery in the watch on your wrist than there is in 1 CFL.

        How many people do you think send their watch batteries to the toxic waste disposal centre?

        The hazards of mercury in CFLs is vastly overblown by the media looking for a story.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jabuzz ( 182671 )
          Nice try but there has been now mercury in watch batteries for over a decade.
      • Exaggerate much?

        I was shopping for them "a couple of months ago" (in my case, March), and LED light bulbs were easily available at that time. Expensive, but easily available.

        Example: C Crane ( is among the first few hits on google when you search for "LED Light Bulb". Another early hit, has similar output bulbs available also.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by halcyon1234 ( 834388 )

        I finally settled for a couple twisty bulbs, but I'm not too happy about it because they contain mercury

        Oh, please. There's more mercury in your watch battery than in the CFL. And it's not like its posing any actual danger to you. The mercury isn't released into the air when the CFL is broken. If it does break, you can clean it up with a vacuum and a pair of rubber gloves, just like a non-CFL. No need to call in a hazmat team [].

        Unless you're going to get down on the floor and lick up the broken CFL, it do

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hack slash ( 1064002 )
        LED lighting on bikes when done right is very good, recently I did my own LED bike lighting setup which is built-into the reflectors, on the back are a couple of oblong red reflectors with 8 red LEDs mounted behind the clear plastic (works suprisingly well as the light is spread out though around 180 degrees), but the front light is something special as I drilled 60 3mm holes in a standard CatEye white reflector and embedded 60 bright 3mm LEDs into it.
        The 60 LEDs are split into two (wiring wise), 18 in the
    • by Alioth ( 221270 )
      They aren't actually more efficient than compact flourescents (yet!) - solid state lighting only beats CF efficiency at the moment if it's red or green. However, I bet it won't be too long.

      The other difficulty with white LEDs is that the common type you get aren't white, they are very pale violet. My front bike light, with a big Luxeon power illuminator is a fantastic bike light (and only beaten by extremely expensive HID lights), however, it is not white, it's very obviously pale violet - so much so that o
      • One you're used to the light, your eyes adjust anyway, so does it really matter if the light is exactly white? After wearing orange ski goggles for about 10 minutes, the snow appears white (or grey?) through them. After removing them, everything looks blue.
    • Give me an LED that is as useful for lighting an entire room as a halogen bulb and I'll agree. Currently, LEDs are too dim, too expensive and they have a too narrow light cone.
  • Solid-state? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:24AM (#23597281)
    Wouldn't it be assumed all modern light bulbs are 'solid-state' and will continue to be?

    Perhaps someone wanted to sound smart by using more words than needed in that press release.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Oh, I see. They want to avoid utilizing a vacuum. This doesn't seem to matter either, as long as someone comes up with a way to do it with greater efficiency.

      It'll take a lot of research and effort to figure out how to make a better LED with only (up to) $20m in rewards.
    • Re:Solid-state? (Score:5, Informative)

      by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot.davidgerard@co@uk> on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:30AM (#23597295) Homepage
      Fluorescents work on a gas being turned into a plasma, so wouldn't qualify. LEDs are solid-state, but are presently very expensive as lightbulbs. Incandescents are fragile, but might be "solid state", but fail on the power requirement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        LEDs are solid-state, but are presently very expensive as lightbulbs.
        In outlay, yes. But they are unlikely ever to need to be replaced. I could imagine light fittings being sold with hard wired LEDs, and lasting decades.
        • Decades? Not really (Score:4, Informative)

          by JustShootThemAll ( 1284898 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:53AM (#23597367)
          The bright white leds that are currently used are not all that stable. Light output decreases with use because the phosphor coating degrades. Remember that white leds are actually UV-leds that need a phosphor coating not unlike fluorescent tubes.

          It takes about 1000 hours for the led to reach 50% light output. The time from 100% to about 85% is measured in single digit hours!

          So, no, light fixtures that last for decades are right out. With current technology, that is.

      • by DFJA ( 680282 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:58AM (#23597377)
        I don't understand this - fluorescents easily beat all *mass produced* white LEDs with good colour rendering in efficiency, and as long as you don't believe the manufacturers' 'incandescent equivant ratings', are a perfect replacement for incandescents. I know there are laboratory LEDs which have higher efficiency, but these are a long way off being mass produced at reasonable prices. I'm all in favour of pushing technology, but prescribing that it must be 'solid state' is completely wrong.

        It reminds me of the old UK cycle-lighting regulations, which basically stated you had to have a light bulb conforming to one of about 3 standards, all incandescent. Once efficient red LEDs came along, it was ages before the regulations changed to make them technically legal - long after everyone in their right mind stopped using the legal versions.

        • And then the regulations went the other way, made those stupid flashing cycle lights legal, and now no one at night can tell whether the cyclist is a couple of miles up the road, or mere milliseconds from being flattened under their front tyre. /me golf claps
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DFJA ( 680282 )
            The interesting thing here is that when people see a flashing red light, they tend to think 'slow moving vehicle' rather than cyclist. This is a double-edged sword - on the one hand, it makes (most) people go more slowly and cautiously, which is good whether you are a cyclist, pedestrian or horse rider (yes, I've come across one at night!). On the other hand, it makes people think 'slow moving vehicle', which many cyclists are definitely not. The number of times I see stupid motor vehicle drivers overtake m
            • I'm a motorcyclist. I see the flashing light, slow down way before I need to, and go wide as a precaution. Note that this is a precaution to defend against a potentially large vehicle in front of me, not as a general defense. If anything, it puts me in more danger from an unseen vehicle coming in the opposite direction.

              Generally, when I realise what's happened, I pull myself back in, accelerate back up to the speed limit in a fraction of a second, and then screeam past the cyclist, in order to get back to a
              • The problem is, NON flashing lights simply don't get noticed. This has been proven in tests. They seem more noticeable, they actually seem brighter - and they can actually BE brighter because a battery powered light would drain the batteries too fast if the light were steady. Instead, flashers often use capacitors to make the flash more powerful while still requiring a slow drain on the batts. So in essence your testimony proves they work - you damned sure are noticing these bikes... whereas with the less b
              • also, I should point out the adjustment factor. They're new to you, you'll get used to them. Rear flashers on bikes have been the norm here in the states since forever, and I've never heard anyone complain about them.
            • by smoker2 ( 750216 )
              Meanwhile the law actually states that you must have a *fixed* red light light showing to the rear of the vehicle. Fixed means "not flashing". So these lights are only legal if they are used in addition to a standard fixed (non flashing) light. I don't see any cyclists with both, but many with flashing lights only, and sometimes they are fixed to the cyclists back pack not the bike. The laws are there for your benefit, so don't abuse them. Yeah I know that sounds cheesy and authoritarian, but you would expe
              • well then... in "the NL" :

                There was a debate about this and the minister for traffic affairs (whatever the translation would be) pretty much just shrugged. His reasoning was that cyclists simply need to be seen clearly by other traffic. So whether that light is attached to a backpack or to an arm or beneath the seat or - where it's supposed to be - at the end of the luggage rack bit... doesn't matter as much as that there -is- a light there. Oh, and it should be red. Preferably not flashing, but as poin
              • Being an avid biker for years, I've never owned one of those LED cluster lights that didn't have multiple modes. My last one would do a static always-on light, then a couple of different flashing modes. Everyone I've seen use the same type seems to just leave them flashing.

                When away from traffic, I always leave my light off. It gives foot/bike patrol officers too much visibility on your location when illegally cutting through parks after midnight. I actually had a plump female officer try and chase me down
              • by Inda ( 580031 )
                In the UK, I wish more cyclists would wear yellow vests. Yes, they make you look a twat but it's the first thing I see when driving my car in the dark. ...proper hand singles would be good too. Don't half heartily point to the direction you want to move in and look over your bloody shoulder before turning right too. ...AND don't weave in and out of traffic. I couldn't give a shit if you are going to get home ten minutes before me - in fact, fair play to you. But, you're an accident waiting to happen. You ca
            • One problem is that it's hard to judge the distance of a point source of light like an LED. If it's dark enough that the driver can't see your body, then all they know is that there is *something* in the road. And since most somethings on a road that are not a car go much slower than a car, they try to pass.

              I notice this problem with those annoying high intensity headlights. The lamps are very small, so they each seem distant. But they're very bright so they both seem close. It makes it hard to judge t
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Your car headlights are supposed to illuminate the curb. There is also the matter of parallax as you get closer to the light/Bicycle, you can determine the distance.

            If you have trouble with this, I suggest you either get your eyes tested, or stop smoking whatever it is.

            Alternatively, try riding a bicycle (even during the day) for an hour or so a day, for a couple of weeks. You will discover that it doesn't matter how visible you are, ignorant arseholes in cars will actively try to run you down anyway.
            • I ride a motorcycle. I'm far more aware of just what utter "ladies front bottoms" cagers are. The headlights are hardly the most powerful things to start with, and even less useful when dipped.
        • by jimicus ( 737525 )

          I don't understand this - fluorescents easily beat all *mass produced* white LEDs with good colour rendering in efficiency, and as long as you don't believe the manufacturers' 'incandescent equivant ratings', are a perfect replacement for incandescents.

          Compact flourescents tend to produce light that's a sickly greenish-yellow in colour and spread over a relatively small part of the visible spectrum. Much better CFLs are available (google for full spectrum CFL), but they're damn expensive and tend to be mail-order only.

          You might find something you like in your local supermarket or B&Q, but realistically you'd have to buy one of each manufacturer's and try them all. The bulbs you see in the supermarket don't even acknowledge that a spectrum of light

          • Not that damn expensive - about £5 a bulb. Cheap enough that my house is entirely fitted with daylight-spectrum bulbs, just because they're so much nicer. (We have a few of the crappy-spectrum CFLs around, for the toilet and laundry and stuff where it matters less, just because they give them away now.)
            • by jimicus ( 737525 )

              Not that damn expensive - about £5 a bulb. Cheap enough that my house is entirely fitted with daylight-spectrum bulbs, just because they're so much nicer. (We have a few of the crappy-spectrum CFLs around, for the toilet and laundry and stuff where it matters less, just because they give them away now.)

              You don't consider £5 for a bulb expensive when a typical incandescent costs 30-60p and a cheap CFL costs £1-2? It really adds up, particularly if you have a number of fittings which require multiple bulbs or bulbs of a particular shape.

              • I consider it expensive for "a light bulb"; I don't consider it expensive for "a really very much nicer light bulb".
        • Yeah. Personally I think they should stick with energy efficiency, taking the whole manufacturing and disposal cycle into account, and not mandate anything else about the technology.

          (Until they come up with a bulb that runs on the tears of widows, orphans and kittens killed by Nazis with plutonium or something. Then they might want to narrow it down.)

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )
          That is because they where trying to ban the use of carbide lamps at the time, as they where considered dangerous. At the time the only alternative was an incandescent bulb, so by specifying the use of a filement in the light they prohibited carbide lamps and achieved their goal.

          Oh and it was more than just bicylces it applied to, it was all vehicles on the public highway.
        • by xeoron ( 639412 )
          My guess would be because fluorescents flicker at high speeds and causes eye strain and headaches.
    • by mrbluze ( 1034940 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:01AM (#23597387) Journal

      Wouldn't it be assumed all modern light bulbs are 'solid-state' and will continue to be?

      Nope, the one in my fridge is a little man who makes sure there's light when I open the door, for the small cost of mysteriously eating up all the chocolate custard only hours after I put it in there. He's not solid state.

      The guy in the freezer is solid state, though

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bplipschitz ( 265300 )
      Wouldn't it be assumed all modern light bulbs are 'solid-state' and will continue to be?

      Hollow state [think vacuum tube] actually. Solid state is like an LED.

      Mod this down--this isn't insightul, it's just a question.
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MassiveForces ( 991813 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:07AM (#23597421)
    Anyone got any bright ideas?
  • With Failed State Lighting.

  • I feel like I've entered a twilight zone or something. Neither the article nor any of the comments so far mention the fluorescent lights, as if they don't exist. Isn't that what we are supposed to be using now? Why set the target of beating the outdated incandescent bulbs that are being banned in many countries anyway (USA by 2014) instead of the better technologies that already exist. Weird
    • Fluorescents are more efficient than incandescents but they have many disadvantages: slow startup, limited operating temperature, can't be used with dimmers or motion detector switches, contain mercury, and low power factor [] (a significant problem if reducing strain on the power grid is the goal). Fluorescents are a step in the right direction, but not the final solution.
      • How can something with only one advantage but so many disadvantages, one being very harmful to humans AND the environment, be a step in the right direction? That is so backwards. People gotta stop being so fooled by granolas and their stupid backwards ideas. Ethanol anyone?
  • So, L is offering a prize for Light?
  • That's an unusual number. Why did they pick 17%? Why not 15 or 20? Is there any significance to that? Also, are they taking into account the amount of energy required to produce the bulb? What if these new "energy efficient" bulbs required as much power to create as a normal bulb used it its entire lifetime?
    • by Kythe ( 4779 )
      Could be based on a calculation of efficiency needed to reduce petroleum consumption a certain amount.
    • Simple, one person wanted 15% the other one wanted 20% so they split it down the middle and rounded down.
  • 1. buy LED lights from thinkgeek.
    2. Mail into DoE.
    3. Profit?
  • Lasers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kythe ( 4779 ) on Friday May 30, 2008 @08:41AM (#23598133)
    Right now, diode lasers are among the most efficient (if not the most efficient) light emitters available. I'm guessing the winner, if there is one, will involve a laser or three plus diffusers/despeckling to get general lighting.

    Of course, getting cost down is another thing entirely.
    • Has anyone created a prototype "light bulb" with diode lasers yet?

      I want to hear more about these laser diodes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hakr89 ( 719001 )
      The problem with using lasers is that they produce light at only one wavelength. This is part of why they're so efficient, they make only one kind of light. White light is a blend of light from throughout the spectrum. You aren't going to be able to make white light with a single laser, you will need at least three (Red, Green, and Blue). To make more realistic (whiter) light, you would want each laser to transmit more of its area of the spectrum, reducing its efficiency and making it less of a laser as the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Right now, diode lasers are among the most efficient (if not the most efficient) light emitters available. I'm guessing the winner, if there is one, will involve a laser or three plus diffusers/despeckling to get general lighting.

      "Despeckling" means spreading the frequency of the light. The speckle comes from interference patters from the monochromatic light from the laser bouncing off surface textures. Broadband sources have speckle in each frequency, too. But the speckle from a swath of minutely differ

The other line moves faster.