March 2010

LED Lights have been installed on an old rail bridge spanning the Hudson River stretching 1.25 miles from Poughkeepsie to Highland NY, along a scenic stretch of the Hudson River Valley about 70 miles north of New York City.

A new smooth concrete walkway has been laid over the rusty skeleton of the 19th Century bridge that once carried smoke-puffing locomotive trains.

The walkway is open to pedestrians and bicyclists. The LED lights are strung along the underside of the railings for special events under the night sky. A nonprofit group, Walkway Over the Hudson, has planned a gala event on May 15, 2010 to unveil the new LED lights.

IBEW Local 363 Electrical workers through All Bright Electric of West Nyack proudly installed the new lights. The NY State Office of Parks and Recreation operates the walkway.


Did you know…

A 60 watt LED light-emitting diode light lasts over 30,000 hours and higher wattage LED lights often last over 100,000 hours.

LED lights burn a small fraction of the energy a regular or CFL light bulb uses to produce the same amount of light.

LED lights aren’t hot to the touch. Incandescent and CFL bulbs retain more heat due to the fact they aren’t transferring energy as efficiently and waste a lot of your electric bill making heat.

Old light bulbs pollute with dangerous mercury which can get into landfills and water supplies, and can harm you directly if the bulb breaks in front of you.

LED lights are a clean pure energy light source.

(the picture on the right – courtesy of – is of a beautiful color-changing LED Strip light)

On AppleInsider: A new Apple patent application revealed this week describes technology that would allow an external light source, like the sun, to provide the backlight for a display, helping to conserve battery life.

The application revealed this week, entitled “External Light Illumination of Display Screens,” notes that current LCD displays can be difficult to view when outdoors in direct sunlight. In addition, it said, it often takes high-powered components to properly light the display. The patent describes a way for a portable computer, like a MacBook, to collect external light to illuminate the computer screen.

One described method would employ a “light harness,” which would serve as a collector of light that would then be displayed onto the screen. This could be done by having the harness reflect light toward the back of the display panel.

In addition to the sun, external light could come from a variety of sources, including an accessory light bulb that could be a part of the mobile computer. The application also mentions such a device could be used in a vehicle, with the screen illuminated by a light inside a car.

The system could also include internal LED light sources that could be used in conjunction with the external light source, if there is not enough light available to properly see the screen.

“The internal light sources may also increase the power consumption of the electronic device,” the application reads. “Therefore, a manifold or other light harness may be used along one or more edges of the display screen in conjunction with or as an alternative to the internal light sources to provide illumination to the display screen by emitting light channeled from an external light source across the display screen.”

Patent 1

One potential method would have the reflector behind the display screen, relaying light to the back of the panel to illuminate it for the user. Another method described in the application would allow the user to remove the reflector entirely, if the user were to position themselves and the back of the computer display towards the light source.

Patent 2

The technology would rely on a translucent surface, either removable or permanent, placed behind the computer display. The surface would either pass or harness external light, allowing the display to be illuminated. The surface could also be hardened to prevent damage to the display.

Patent 3

1. Patent # 7677770 for an apparatus for retrofitting LED-based recessed lamps into incandescent or fluorescent recessed lighting fixtures.

An LED down light replacement apparatus is disclosed for insertion into a recessed-light housing can, which includes an LED light source, a means for mounting said LED light source within the housing can, an LED driver circuit electrically connected to the LED light source, a heat sink in thermal contact with the LED light source, and means for removing heat generated by the LED light source. The means for removing heat generated by the LED light source can include a fan and/or ventilation holes in the top of the housing can.

There are many types of lighting fixtures for the home or office which are known in the art. These include Edison based fixtures, surface mounted fixtures, track-lighting fixtures, and recessed fixtures. These fixtures have traditionally come in three types: incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity discharge (HID) lights. All three suffer from inefficiency, relatively short life, and high heat dissipation. For example, incandescent lamps produce in the area of 14 to 17 lumens per watt. In addition, incandescent light sources use a thin filament which glows when heated by electrical power and tends to burn out easily. Typical, incandescent lamps have to be replaced every 2000 hours. Fluorescent lamps are an improvement over incandescent lamps, producing 50 to 120 lumens per watt, and lasting about 15,000 hours. HID lamps last about 20,000 hours.

To overcome inefficiency and to extend lifetime, LED-based lighting fixtures have been introduced. A white light can be produced by combining a blue led with a phosphor, or by combining red, green, and blue LEDs. These combination LEDs can be formed into incandescent-like bulbs and recessed cylindrical or rectangular fixtures. In order to avoid replacing the large base of existing incandescent-based recessed lights, LED light fixtures can be designed to be retrofitted into existing fluorescent rectangular or cylindrical “can” incandescent or fluorescent fixtures. The LED recessed lamps in the prior art, however, operate generally at low wattages, typically about three watts. If the wattage is raised to increase brightness, say to about 5-50 watts, the increased heat dissipation causes the LEDs to drift out of current-voltage specification, thereby introducing unwanted color variations and even failure. In some circumstances, depending on the thermal environment of an LED recessed lamp, ventilation may be needed for power dissipation as low as 2 watts (or a light output of about 100 lumens or more).

As such, there is a need in the art for an improved retrofittable LED-based recessed light that can operate at relatively high wattages without incurring color variations or risking failure at high output power.

The above-described problems are addressed and a technical solution is achieved in the art by an LED down light replacement apparatus for insertion into a recessed-light housing can, which includes an LED light source, a means for mounting the LED light source within the housing can, an LED driver circuit electrically connected to the LED light source, and means for removing heat generated by the LED light source. In some embodiments, the recessed-light housing can is part of the apparatus; in other embodiments, the apparatus is inserted into an existing housing can after removing an existing incandescent or fluorescent light assembly.

The means for removing heat generated by the LED light source can include a heat sink in thermal contact with the LED light source, and a fan and/or ventilation holes in the top of the housing can. When the apparatus includes a fan, the fan can be mounted on the heat sink or on a top surface of the housing can. The apparatus can include a trim and a ventilation cone with a conical flange protruding therefrom. Air is drawn in through the heat sink by the fan and directed between the fan and the housing can out through a space between the trim or housing can and the truncated conical flange of the ventilation cone.

From the NY Times: MATTHEW L. WALD

Does a “gasoline-powered alarm clock” qualify for the EnergyStar label, the government stamp of approval for an energy-saving product?

Like more than a dozen other bogus products submitted for approval since last June by Congressional auditors posing as companies, it easily secured the label, according to a Congressional report to be issued Friday. So did an “air purifier” that was essentially an electric space heater with a feather duster pasted on top, the Government Accountability Office said.

In a nine-month study, four fictitious companies invented by the accountability office also sought EnergyStar status for some conventional devices like dehumidifiers and heat pump models that existed only on paper. The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet those applications were mostly approved without a challenge or even questions, the report said.

Auditors concluded that the EnergyStar program was highly vulnerable to fraud.

Maria Vargas, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency, which runs the program with the Energy Department, said the approvals did not pose a problem for consumers because the products never existed. There was “no fraud,” Ms. Vargas emphasized. She said she doubted that many of the 40,000 genuine products with EnergyStar status had been mislabeled.But in anticipation of the report’s release, the Energy Department has issued two statements in recent days pledging to strengthen the program.

Yet auditors found problems beyond the approval of nonexistent products. They determined that once a company registered as an EnergyStar partner, it could download the logo from the government’s Web site and paste it on products for which it had not even requested approval.

The report is only the latest in a series involving the 18-year-old EnergyStar program, which was set up to guide the public on energy-efficient choices that could both save people money and help reduce the nation’s runaway energy consumption.

Watchdogs within the Environment Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have reported in the past that Energy Star has taken some claims of energy efficiency on faith. Yet the new study suggests that it often does so on remote control.

Congressional auditors said they were told by EnergyStar officials that some of the approvals, including the one for the gasoline alarm clock, had been issued by an automated system and that the details had probably never been reviewed by a human being.

Ms. Vargas added that the automated system that green-lighted the clock was only a preliminary “screen” to evaluate energy figures submitted by manufacturers and to cut out products that did not qualify. Every product that is certified is reviewed by a human being, she said.

But Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who requested the accountability office study, said in an interview, “I don’t think I’d admit that.”

If a government employee or contractor examined the comical picture submitted of the space heater with a feather duster, or read the description of the gas-powered clock — with dimensions suggesting it was the size of an electric generator — “and red flags didn’t get raised, that’s a really troubling commentary,” Ms. Collins said. She said the ease with which the auditors had fooled the program suggested that consumers and agencies that rely on the logo were paying extra for products that might not actually save energy. “This program is extraordinarily easy to defraud,” she said. Ms. Collins also noted that the economic stimulus bill included hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for people who buy EnergyStar products and that many government agencies were required to choose EnergyStar products if they were available. In effect, people “are ripped off twice,” as consumers and as taxpayers, she said.

Previous reports have suggested that the EnergyStar label is not always a complete or useful guide to the best consumer choices. Last October, for example, the inspector general of the E.P.A. said that 100 percent of the computer monitors that carried the EnergyStar logo had indeed met requirements. But so did 80 percent of the monitors that did not have the logo; the manufacturers had apparently not sought approval. For computer printers, 95 percent of the ones with the logo qualified, but so did 60 percent of the ones that did not have the logo.

And some consumer products lacking EnergyStar approval consumed less energy than those that had it, the audit found.

And the inspector general of the Energy Department reported the same month that EnergyStar claims were not “accurate or verifiable” for many products. The program requires manufacturers of windows and fluorescent lights to get their products certified by independent laboratories. But companies that make refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters and room air-conditioners, in which efficiency is far more critical because they gobble more energy, need only check a box on a form to be certified. The Energy Department has promised to set up a system of independent verification for all products. Last week, it said it would begin testing refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air-conditioners. In October 2008, Consumer Reports magazine reported it had tested refrigerators built by LG of South Korea and found that they were not nearly as efficient as the maker claimed. LG eventually agreed to modify the machines already sold to reduce electricity consumption and to reimburse customers. Last week, the Energy Department said it had found a Samsung refrigerator that did not comply. The Energy Department does spot check some items with the EnergyStar logo, but mostly the ones that do not use much power in the first place. The department recently announced that several models of compact fluorescent lamps would have to remove the EnergyStar logo because they were not durable enough. It has conducted spot checks on regulated appliances that do not carry the logo and determined that some cannot be legally sold because they do not meet minimum efficiency standards. The audit to be released Friday did not set out to test any products but focused solely on testing the certification process by submitting bogus products. Gene Rodrigues, the director of customer energy efficiency at Southern California Edison, suggested that the EnergyStar label suffered from its appeal to manufacturers. “It may be that their ability to properly manage the brand suffered at the fringes,” he said of the program’s overseers. He argues that a strong federal certification program is vital. “What we in the program industry are looking for is for this to be a wake-up call to whip them into shape,” he said. In another sign that Energy Star is not dotting its i’s, program officials told the auditors that they sought to assure honesty by warning corporate applicants on some of its paperwork that intentionally submitting false information is a crime, under Title 18 of the United States Code. But it is a crime under Title 19, not 18, and the warning does not appear on all of the relevant forms, the report said.

(from Environmental Leader News for Business)

AB&I Foundry is starting to enjoy the benefits of $100,000 a year in energy savings after a lighting retrofit at its facility.

The Oakland, Calif., manufacturer of cast iron pipe was able to tap into $45,000 in incentives, including subsidies from a California utility rebate program, said Matt Krieger, a spokesman at Ruder Finn Israel, which handles PR for Metrolight, the firm that handled the retrofit.

In total, 255 existing lighting fixtures were replaced with 240 electronic HID fixtures and intelligent lighting controls, he said.

The retrofit of the 100-plus year old foundry should result in a reduction of energy use by about 732,000 kilowatt hours a year, according to a press release.

The retrofit was the result of an audit to determine potential energy savings potential.

Other companies are taking advantage of lighting retrofits for their factories, warehouses and office buildings.

Even retailers are active in the sector.

For instance, Canadian Tire, a retailer of tire and automotive parts, gas stations and general merchandise and apparel, iscompleting an energy-efficient lighting program in 361 stores.

The lighting retrofits translated into energy savings of $6 million in 2009. The company expects to save another $12 million in 2010.

Ford Motor Company’s latest energy-efficiency project is the retrofit of its lighting systems at its Detroit Campus facilities. New England Energy Management (NEEM) will retrofit or replace more than 50,000 light fixtures, which will include the addition of lighting control systems and daylight dimming controls for maximum efficiency.

The projects will be installed with no upfront cost to Ford. The energy savings will be used to pay NEEM over five years.

Ford has improved its overall energy efficiency at its U.S. facilities by 4.6 percent in 2009, which yielded the company approximately $15 million in savings, along with its fifth straight Energy Star Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To reduce energy efficiency at its U.S. manufacturing plants and operations, Ford has implemented a host of measures that included updating its heating and lighting control systems, upgrading its paint process systems, installing advanced computer controls and using flexible tooling to assemble multiple vehicles on the same production line for better plant utilization.

Ford also launched a PC Power Management program to improve global energy efficiency with an estimated reduction in the company’s carbon footprint of between 16,000 and 25,000 metric tons annually and a “Go Green” Dealership Sustainability program to improve energy efficiency at its dealerships.

Other measures include reducing energy use during extended production shutdown periods and further improvements to its “Paint Shop of the Future” processes that reduce the footprint and energy use in its paint booths.

Ford’s U.S. facilities have improved energy efficiency by more than 30 percent since 2000, which the automaker says is equivalent to the annual energy consumed by more than 110,000 homes.

By switching to LED lights at a Canadian office, pharmaceutical giant GlaxSmithKline estimates it is saving $46,000 a year.

The lighting retrofit at its Mississauga, Ontario, office, involved switching from fixtures that used 26 watts an hour to new ones using nine watts an hour, said Terrence DeWolfe of GlaxoSmithKline, in a statement.

Because the LEDs operate cooler than the traditional lighting they replaced, the company expects to save money on cooling costs too.

DeWolfe said the fixtures should pay for themselves in about two years.

The retrofit was handled by CRS Electronics, which also did a retrofit at the Palace Pier condo tower in Toronto, which it claims to be the largest LED retrofit of a residential project in North America.

Other companies are switching to LED, as well.

For instance, Ford is conducting a retrofit of its lighting systems at its Detroit Campus facilities. New England Energy Management (NEEM) will retrofit or replace more than 50,000 light fixtures, which will include the addition of lighting control systems and daylight dimming controls for maximum efficiency.


The U.S. Energy Department announced today thatit will provide $100 million more in stimulus funds to projects pursuing potentially disruptive clean energy technologies — and employing thousands of Americans in the process. It’s doing so under the banner of ARPA-E, which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.

The new funding is targeted at three specific areas of innovation: grid-scale storage solutions, experimental electricity transmission projects, and energy efficient air conditioners for green buildings. These first two categories are pretty intuitive, but the third hasn’t been a major priority until now.

Grid-scale storage is a huge concern for several reasons. First of all, Americans are using more energy now than ever before. This trend is stretching grids and utilities to capacity, threatening to cause far more blackouts and other service disruptions. The problem will only get worse (and way worse at that) when consumers start plugging in electric vehicles, starting this year. If more energy can be stored during off-peak or low-demand times, then utilities will be able to take the edge off on-peak demand, preventing outages and saving millions on maintenance.

On top of that, the only way wind and solar power will become mainstream energy solutions, is if the electricity they generate can be stored in massive quantities. Right now, both renewable sources are too intermittent and unreliable to be the sole providers of electricity to households and businesses. If grid-level storage became available, unneeded solar and wind could be reserved for times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, making them consistent enough to go it alone without a fossil fuel backup.

ARPA-E says it is looking to fund prototypes and projects in this area that can eventually be scaled to the megawatt and megawatt-hour level. Applicants for this money can be at the proof-of-concept stage; they don’t need to have demonstrable technology yet.

Transmission is also one of the hurdles standing between the grid now and what it needs to be to handle new demand and distributed sources of energy (like wind and solar). In particular, ARPA-E wants to see more projects working on high-density charge storage — transmission solutions that are both cheaper and capable of delivering more energy at a time.

Special attention is being paid to more efficient power converters, which would allow electricity to be scaled up for intensive applications, like data centers, and scaled down for smaller applications, like household lighting. Making power converters more efficient could reduce electricity consumption in the U.S. by as much as 12 percent, the Department of Energy says, not to mention save American businesses thousands off their energy bills.

The third category of focus for this new ARPA-E round, thermodevices (i.e. air conditioners), is somewhat surprising, but it makes sense. In addition to lighting and major appliances, HVAC systems eat up a shocking amount of energy every year. Just imagine how much Texans’ electricity bills go up during the summer. Now the government is investing in making these systems more efficient.

The program will be looking for projects working on new AC designs that save energy while simultaneously cutting down on hazardous GHG emissions (vapor produced by typical refrigerants). Systems that recirculate air in hot climates are of particular interest. With many developing nations in warm climates seeing a spike in economic growth, there will be more and more demand for AC systems. Making sure they get the greenest models possible when the market explodes is imperative.

ARPA-E’s first, $151 million round of funding targeted a broad array of technologies: biofuels, carbon sequestration equipment, renewable power sources, building efficiency designs, electric vehicles, energy storage solutions and more — although only 37 recipients were selected out of a pool of 3,700, as Earth2Tech points out. Its second round, also $100 million, narrowed this field, funding biofuel development, carbon capture and battery innovations. Now this third round seems to be even more focused on energy delivery and efficiency. In the past, projects have received about $4 million each.

There is an open call for applications for this third round right now. It will be interesting to see how many are chosen to get the money — and whether or not they will come up with anything truly useful.

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