This week: swapping out high-bay LEDs for induction, taking advantage of Haitz's Law to replace street lights, and horticultural LEDs on Mars.
Growing veggies in a shipping container in Antarctica
Well, it's not really Mars, but it's one of the places on Earth that comes kind of close -- dry and cold. The atmosphere is way too thick, though.
“From a space exploration perspective, LED lighting for plants is really the future.” — DLR researcher Matt Bamsey
The German space agency DLR staffs an Antarctic station year-round. The researchers there are working on a three-year contract with the horticultural lighting company Heliospecra to grow food in a shipping container at the bottom of the world. Heliospectra has developed "light recipes" for growing such things as coriander, dill, parsley, and wheat under blue and red LED light.
Conditions in the Antarctic may be somewhat Mars-like, but there's another kind of simulation going on. When DLR's nine investigators spend the nine-month winter eating food grown in the shipping container, conditions are lot like the inside of a spacecraft. The staff in residence is about the same size as a crew that might undertake a voyage to Mars. Resupply to Antarctica during the winter is pretty much nonexistent, just as it would be to a spaceship on the way to our neighboring planet.
Crowdfunding for SSL startups
E2 Lighting International of Hayward, Calif., is one of four "Main Street" businesses seeking debt financing through a new crowdsourcing program offered by Breakaway Funding of Sausalito, Calif. Breakaway is developing a "community-based crowdfunding platform" to bring mostly accredited investors -- high-net-worth individuals -- together with capital-hungry companies with annual revenue of $1 million to $20 million.
The details of what E2 Lighting will seek are not yet up on the Breakaway site: how much capital the company is seeking, the minimum investment per participant, and whether the deal is open only to "sophisticated" investors or to any California resident.
We have written about funding SSL companies before. This crowdfunding initiative will be one to watch.
Swappng out high-bay LEDs in favor of induction
We have heard plenty of success stories of LED-based lighting replacing commercial or industrial fluorescent, metal halide, of sodium lights. At three Tennessee steel mills, LEDs were tried and failed to make the grade. They are being replaced with EverLast induction lighting.
The circumstances are a little bit special at the steel mills of Gerdau in Knoxville, Tenn. "The ceilings in the plant are about 140-160 degrees [Fahrenheit] and the lens on the LED fixtures began to melt off," a Gerdau spokesman said in an EverLast press release. "We also have a lot of steel dust that floats in our air... The weight of the compiled dust ultimately unhinged each fixture... sending it crashing to [the] floor."
Replacing street lights by Haitz's Law
The city of St. Cloud, Minn., has what may be a better idea on how to implement a program to upgrade its streetlights to SSL. It is replacing one-fifth of its street lights each year for five years. The phased project will be easier to pay for than a "big bang" would. But the real impetus for this approach is to reap the benefits of Haitz's Law, which says that LEDs drop in price by a factor of 10 every decade. St. Cloud expects each year's crop of replacements to perform better and to be cheaper than the last.
Does this approach make financial sense? I would love to see the city's spreadsheets. In the first year, it is leaving on the table four-fifths of the energy and maintenance savings it would have if it replaced all the lights at once. A year later, it would leave three-fifths, then two-fifths, and then one-fifth. Does the Haitz improvement compensate for those losses? Anybody want to take a stab at that calculation?
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting