EcoWeek,  October 2, 2006

Canadian companies take lead in building a better light bulb

Group IV Semiconductor (Group IV) and EnCana Corporation, supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), are placing themselves at the forefront of the worldwide quest to build a better light bulb with an innovation that could lead to a light bulb that lasts 20 yeas and uses 90% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

The companies are working to advance solid state lighting technology. Group IV's unique approach is to pass an electrical current through silicon in order to produce light. Because almost all of the energy is converted to light instead of heat, Group IV's innovation is designed to consume one-tenth the energy and last years longer than traditional light bulbs. Solid state lighting technologies like this use semiconductors to produce light instead of gases (fluorescent) or filaments (incandescent).

Group IV is leading the three partners in the three-year, $9.1-million solid state lighting project. The consortium plans to further develop the technology and demonstrate its application in commercially viable lighting products. SDTC has confirmed $2.1 million of funding for the project. EnCana has confirmed $2.5 million, while Group IV has leveraged the remaining $4.5 million from other sources, including McMaster University.

"Solid-state lighting is gathering momentum as a means to reduce the world's energy consumption," said Group IV CEO Stephen Naor. "Our vision from the very beginning has been to introduce light bulbs priced for mass adoption that are compatible with existing fixtures. Group IV's goal is to revolutionize the $12 billion global lighting market," he added.

Gerry Protti, executive vice-president, corporate relations for EnCana, noted that his company is supporting the project through its Environmental Innovation Fund. "With over 20% of electricity use in North America coming from natural gas and oil, EnCana recognizes the need for efficient lighting technology and the value it adds to the life cycle of our own products," he said.

Group IV and its partners maintain that widespread adoption of this lighting technology could lead to electricity savings equivalent to almost twice the amount used annually by Toronto homes.

Other benefits include:

*a longer lasting bulb, potentially 50,000 hours. (The typical life of an incandescent bulb is 1,000 hours, for compact fluorescents, 5,000 hours.);

*excellent quality of white light;

*compatibility with existing light fixtures; and

*lower manufacturing costs than other solid state products, due to use of silicon.

Finally, the companies noted that solid state lights are not hot to the touch like traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs; this is particularly beneficial in applications such as display cases and freezers where heat is a concern.

Based in Otttawa, Group IV is working to develop silicon-based solid-state light emitters, which will be the foundation for future energy-efficient, reasonably priced solid-state lighting products.

EnCana created its Environmental Innovation Fund in January 2004 to help implement its corporate responsibility policy by financing projects that support the development and demonstration of new and cleaner energy technologies. Since its inception, the Fund has invested more than $7 million in internal and external projects.

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