Friday, 1 January 2010


The Carbon Trust, a UK based non-profit trust set up by the British government, has awarded money to fund a new lighting technology that could lower your power bill and carbon footprint in the next couple of years.

The technology is being developed by LOMOX Ltd, a welsh start-up which won a grant from the Carbon Trust of £454,000 ($720,000) to bring organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) to the commercial market.

The fund money is going to 'Lomox', to aid further development of organic LED technology. OLEDs use approximately 50% of the power of fluorescents for a given light output, or about 12% the power of a traditional incandescent lamp.

Traditionally, the problem with OLEDs has been that they have a limited lifespan. Lomox believes it has found a way to make OLEDs last longer than fluorescent lamp technology, which are already a substantial improvement over standard incandescent lamps.

OLEDs can be painted on to a surface, enabling an endless variety shapes and uses. Those glow in the dark stars on the ceiling of your old room could be replaced with a printed roll of the Lomox paper, drawing a tiny amount of power and providing enough light to navigate in the night. The product could also find its way in to road signs and advertising boards.

In that application, small solar PV and rechargeable battery combos could provide power through the dark nights to illuminate signage more efficiently than traditional flood lighting. Since the message itself would be illuminated, less light would be spilled on the space around the sign.

Alternately, or perhaps additionally, the technology promises fixture-free lighting in offices and homes — the ceiling itself becomes the light source. This would also increase efficiency by moving from a point source (Incandescent Lamp) to a radiant light source. With light coming from every direction, radiant lighting reduces or eliminates the need for redundant lighting to prevent poorly illyminated sections in the room.

Lomox plans to have its first products to market in 2012. The OLED technology produces 150 lumens per watt, close to high-end traditional LEDs.

OLED technology isn’t restricted to lighting products, either. OLEDs have demonstrated the ability to be used in flexible displays, TV screens and PC monitors.

If Lomox has indeed found the cure for OLED’s usually-short lifespan and is able to keep the price low, the technology could be licensed for a new generation of thinner, lighter and more power-efficient home displays. Put in cell phones, OLED displays would yield longer battery performance.

In short, Lomox received the grant from the Carbon Trust to develop its longer-lived OLEDs into a commercially viable product. Once completed, the technology promises long-term energy savings and high performance in a highly versatile package. OLEDs could be the must have lighting solution for the next generation.

Estimates predict that 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved if all modern lighting was replaced with OLEDs by 2020. The future’s bright for wallpaper, a future which could be very illuminating indeed for green schemes.

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