Kingston, ON Long touted as an energy-saving alternative for home lighting, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) now have the potential to be even more efficient, as well as dimmable, thanks to research at Queen's University.
Adopted by householders as a longer-lasting, energy efficient alternative to the traditional incandescent lightbulb, compact fluorescents consume one-third of the power and last 1,000 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
However, the Queen's researchers were motivated to solve two problems with CFLs they don't work with dimmer switches, and, more importantly, their energy efficiency is compromised because of a problem known as poor power factor. In effect, only part of the energy a CFL consumes is used to power the bulb, resulting in wasted power.
"Consumer-grade CFLs need to be compact and inexpensive. Until now, the complicated circuitry needed to power these bulbs most efficiently has been too large and too costly for consumer-grade compact fluorescents," says professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Praveen Jain, Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics and a world expert on electronic power supplies. "In its current form, the household CFL takes away the very benefit to the power grid that it was supposed to provide."
The Queen's innovation is timely, Dr. Jain adds, since widespread use of today's less efficient CFLs would reduce expected benefits to the global power grid. Many countries, including Australia and the European Union, have already begun phasing out incandescent bulbs in favor of the compact fluorescents. (Europe and Asia have established minimum standards for power factor for CFLs over 25 watts, but Canada and the U.S., which plan to ban incandescent by 2012, have not.)
The global market for compact fluorescents is estimated at $80 billion.
The poor power factor already has had an impact on commercial users of CFLs, who are charged for the e
|Contact: Jeff Drake|