by Matt Rosenberg on May 28, 2014
For the University of Washington’s UW360 video news series Carolyn Douglas recently reported on an R&D stage start-up called LumiSands, born in the University of Washington’s electrical engineering program when graduate students Chang-Ching Tu and Ji Hoo realized there had to be a better – and greener – way to make a key component called phosphors which provide light and color to the lower-energy light bulbs known as LEDs.
- Chang-Ching Tu, co-founder LumiSands
LEDs are considered a smart choice even though currently they cost more than consumers are used to paying for light bulbs, UW360 reports. Using just 10 watts they can produce 60 watts worth of light; “you don’t have to do a lot of math to figure out that LED technology is going to save American households and households in this region a whole lot of energy,” Seattle City Light Program Manager and Senior Planner Ryan Southard told Douglas.
But the phosphors in LEDs are made from rare earth elements, exacting a toll on pocketbooks and the environment. LumiSands uses silicon instead, the main component of “common beach sand,” notes one of the principals. The company is still in R&D but hopes to go to market within several years.
And the market is growing. Not only does Seattle City Light provide rebates to residential customers for buying energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, it also consults to commercial customers on green lighting projects.
The backdrop is continued progress in green lighting technology and products. Seattle City Light Energy Management Analyst Art Conrad tells UW360, “Every six months we have better product, better color renditions, lower price, and it just keeps getting better and better. So they way lighting is in the future, is going to look a lot more like LED.”