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Lighting -- an evolving and efficient pathway to cleaner air

Robert Davis,

Originally posted on May 05, 2014

Sustainability Environmentalism Energy

Artificial lighting consumes ~ 20 percent of the electricity used in the USA and most other countries in the developed world. The efficiencies in energy used to "burn" incandescent and fluorescent bulbs are ≤5% and ≤35%, respectively; the remainder of the energy is converted into useless heat. Coal-fired electricity-generating plants in the USA currently emit 110,000,000 tons of CO2/year just for lighting -- the equivalent in weight to ~73,000,000 family cars that would encircle earth ~9 times. The two billion people without access to electricity use diesel fuel and paraffin- and fat-based lighting schemes that are ≤ 2% efficient, provide only 1% of global lighting and are responsible for 20 % of lighting-based CO2 emissions in the amount of 200,000,000 tons/year (~133,000,000 family cars equal in total length to 1.7 trips to the moon). The introduction and continuing evolution of more efficient (≥65%) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are increasing globally both visibility and commercial opportunity. A new lighting technology, quantum dots (QDs), with efficiencies of ~80% is now being used in ultra-high definition televisions and electronic book readers and soon in computer and telephone displays. QD-based LEDs are a potentially new technology that will allow us to efficiently extend the daylight into the night.
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