News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio - How to change the light bulb
After 100 years, the world of light bulbs is undergoing a rapid transformation from incandescent to halogen, compact flourescent, and LED.
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Design manager Jim Reginelli (left), lead engineer Glenn Kuenzler (right) and their team developed the new LED light bulb at GE's Nela Park lighting headquarters in East Cleveland.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb?  Five. But it took an act of Congress to make it practical. 

In this week’s Exploradio we meet a small group of engineers at GE’s East Cleveland lighting headquarters who are changing the light bulb as we know it.

Exploradio - Changing light bulbs

Other options:
MP3 Download (4:10)


(Click image for larger view.)

In the beginning there was the candle. Then in 1880, Thomas Edison patented his cotton filament incandescent light bulb. He converted to longer lasting tungsten in 1911, and not much has changed since. 

The familiar 100-watt incandescent light bulb is being phased out under the Energy Independence and Security Act signed in 2007 by President Bush. The law does not ban incandescent bulbs, but it sets efficiency standards the old bulbs cannot meet. That has led to a plethora of new choices for light bulbs.

Baking bulbs for long life 

Engineers at GE’s Nela Park research center in East Cleveland are testing one lighting option. Jim Reginelli bakes a rack of LED lights in an oven the size of a fridge.

“This chamber here to the right is what we call our EHTOL, or extreme high temperature operating life condition,” says Reginelli. “So this is really stressing the component and this will really tell us when the end of life will occur for the LED.” 

Their stress tests are an important consideration for a bulb that retails at $27. They say it will easily glow for 25,000 hours, or 23 years of average use.

From commercial to consumer 

LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes are not new. They are the little red lights inside computers and old calculators. You might ask when will we see LEDs in other uses.

Reginelli says today, if you drive up Noble Road in front of Nela Park, the entire street is lit by GE’s cobra head LED streetlight. Beginning about 10 years ago, they have been used in everything from traffic signals to tail lights because of their long lifespan.

Lead engineer Glenn Kuenzler says developing LED technology for a fickle light bulb-buying public is more of a challenge. In the design, they needed a thermal solution that did not interfere with the optical solution.

Looks like a light bulb 

Edison’s light bulb had four basic elements. The GE team crammed 90 components into its new LED light bulb: nine diodes, circuits, even a transformer converting A/C to D/C. Fins help cool the electronics nestled in the bulb’s base. The egg-shaped glass diffuser spreads the light around evenly. 

Design engineer David Dudik’s job was making it look like an old fashioned light bulb.

“So as we added these heat fins,” says Dudik, “the shape of the diffuser changed to accommodate it, and then once we got to a design point where we felt the reliability was going to be acceptable, we started to try and shape the lamp to make it look as close to an incandescent shape as possible.” 

In other words, no spiraling tubes like you see with compact fluorescent bulbs. 

While their 40-watt replacement is already on store shelves, the five members of the LED team at GE’s Nela Park are working on higher watt LED light bulbs. Lead engineer Kuenzler feels his team is up to the challenge. The disciplines they work with are thermals, optics, electronics, and overall mechanical integration as well as aesthetics.

“There’s a lot of competing factors,” says Kuenzler. “How do we put a product on the market that meets everybody’s expectations and meets their cost expectations at the same time?” 

Changing light bulbs 

In accordance with the law going into effect this month, GE no longer makes standard 100 watt incandescent bulbs. 

Its new LEDs are just one of many choices in the lighting aisle, where you’ll see dozens of flavors of compact fluorescent and halogens from many brands.   

After 100 years, technology and the world-wide push for energy efficiency is truly changing the light bulb.


Related Links & Resources
The history of lighting


Related WKSU Stories

Exploradio - The march of the bat killer
Monday, January 23, 2012

Exploradio - The other side of evolution
Monday, January 9, 2012

Exploradio - A new age for whiskey
Monday, December 19, 2011

Listener Comments:

LED street lights would be cheaper and better.


Posted by: LED Grow Lights (India) on February 1, 2012 8:02AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Farm-to-School: Cafeteria lunch is fresh and local at Tallmadge High School
Great job Tallmadge City Schools! So glad to have a progressive business manager and superintendant!

World premiere at Cleveland Institute of Music is fanfare for a new theme
J'ai une grande admiration pour Daniil Trifonov que j'ai vu en concert deux fois à Paris je ne lui trouve pas d'égal c'est un ange tombe du ciel

Kent's journalism school faculty protest presidential search secrecy
There really was too much secrecy behind the selection process. Hopefully the letter by the faculty members will convince the board to provide more information ...

Belgian cargo ship creates new export route between Antwerp and NEO
The vessel is registered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Not in Belgium ;)

Exploradio: Tracking Ohio's champion trees
Absolutely loved this story. We lost 3 of our larger ash trees last year due to EAB. Big, beautiful trees are something to be treasured, and many times they tru...

Ohio's rules on fracking and earthquakes are a first
I'm right in the middle of the issue. Like oil independence, but hope there is pre- and current-drilling assurance re dangers from pollution, earthquakes and th...

Bridgestone exec indictments are latest step in a billion-dollar price-fixing case
Why is O.P.E.C Not investigated and charges brought against it and it's member companies? It sounds exactly the same...

Ohio's new drilling rules rely on known earthquake faults
requiring drillers to place seismic monitors when they drill within 3 miles of known fault lines. This comment really upsets me!! What good does an instrument t...

Kasich's gubernatorial ad focuses on his blue-collar roots
John Kasich is the biggest con-man in America. He will say one thing and then do the opposite. He is terribly successful at fooling the public and he is worki...

Cab drivers who refuse to drive Gay Games taxis will be replaced
the irony is that most americans distrust or hate muslims much more than they hate gays!! silly ignorant bigots-GO HOME!!!

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University