Březen 2013

More Energy-Efficient LED Light Bulbs

29. března 2013 v 6:38 street light
At a news event today, the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced that Leapfrog Lighting will receive up to $150,000 through the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program.

"Our government is strongly committed to initiatives that support science, technology and the growth of innovative Canadian firms," said Minister Goodyear. "Like so many small and medium-sized businesses in Ontario, Leapfrog Lighting is doing some really innovative work. These businesses are critical to the Canadian economy and our government will continue to put in place the tools that Canadians need to grow, create jobs and secure their long-term prosperity."

Leapfrog Lighting's goal is to improve LED lighting technologies with a special focus on quality of light. Leapfrog Lighting's CEO, Stephen Naor, explained that the two obstacles to mainstream adoption of LED lighting are "quality of light and economic value proposition." The new LED technology, based on advanced optical and thermal designs, is engineered to remove both barriers to adoption of energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

"Leapfrog Lighting develops and markets advanced LED light bulbs with an optical and thermal design that provides measurable improvements in the lighting quality required by facility managers, architects and retailers," explained a Canadian Federal Government news release. Leapfrog's light bulbs exhibit improved glare control, light distribution and colour consistency over existing LED technologies.

The worldwide market for LED bulbs is projected to grow to $107 billion US annually within three years as new technologies improve light quality and price point. Leapfrog's made-in-Canada solution will save up to ten times the power usage of traditional incandescent bulbs, and will sell for less than current LED bulbs.

"At Leapfrog, we see a future where every home and business adopts LED lighting," said Mr. Naor. "In this future, we see a made-in-Canada solution that removes the barriers to LED lighting adoption by the mainstream."

Leapfrog Lighting already markets specification-grade LED bulbs with superior, consistent light qualities, popular with facility managers, retailers, architects, interior designers and galleries. "These new bulbs will be more efficient and less expensive and will have better light," explained the Canadian Government news release.

The Minister stressed the importance of innovators such as Leapfrog Lighting, explaining that Canada's economic success does not depend on what governments do-but on what companies like Leapfrog do. He emphasized that Leapfrog, and other small businesses are the job creators and innovators.

Leapfrog Lighting's new LED bulbs will be specified, designed and manufactured in Canada, partially funded by the involvement of IRAP, through the Ministry of Industry, and also through the Government of Ontario's Innovation Demonstration Fund, said Mr. Naor.

The investment is part of an initiative from the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to help small- to mid-sized enterprises commercialize quickly. IRAP assists Canadian corporations with R&D and commercialization support for new products and processes designed to access new markets.

Philips Hue Connected Bulb

28. března 2013 v 4:05 solar charger
Imagine a world where you can control every aspect of your home wirelessly from your smartphone. The Philips Hue Connected bulb brings that vision one step closer to reality, allowing you to wirelessly control your lighting. But it's not just about control, it's about customization. The Philips Hue app for Android and iOS is surprisingly powerful, letting you adjust intensity, set custom colors, color combinations, and schedules. There's an undeniable wow factor from the moment you screw in your first bulb, but there's also some genuine convenience and utility. Unfortunately, the system is prohibitively expensive at $60 per bulb or $200 for the starter kit with three bulbs.

The Hue bulbs are conical in shape, with a glass end and a tapered aluminum body that terminates in a standard light bulb connector. They feel more substantial than your typical light bulb, but are about the same size and virtually indistinguishable once screwed into a socket. Unlike fluorescent or incandescent lightbulbs, the Hue bulbs utilize LEDs. Philips rates the lifespan of each bulb at up to 15,000 hours, and despite the Wi-Fi connectivity, claims that each bulb uses 80 percent less power than a traditional incandescent bulb.

With each starter pack you get three bulbs and a wireless bridge. You can add up to 50 bulbs to a single bridge, but keep in mind that starter kit bulbs are permanently tied to their packaged bridge-that means you can only add bulbs to your starter kit using the single bulb packs.

Setup is simple and straightforward, and there's very little networking knowledge required. First you screw in your bulbs and turn them on-they'll light up without a wireless connection like any lightbulb. Next you connect the wireless bridge to your Wi-Fi router using the included ethernet cable. Then download the free iOS or Android app and follow the on-screen prompts for pairing the Hue bulbs and bridge with your phone or tablet. To control the Hue bulbs wirelessly, you must leave your power switches turned on. Keep in mind you can still turn Hue bulbs on or off using your regular light switch if you don't have your mobile device handy, but you just won't be able to adjust color or light intensity.

Using the Hue app, you can control and customize the color and intensity of each individual lightbulb. This can extend from simply turning lights on and off with your smartphone, or recreating a scene from your last vacation. Philips pre-loads a number of readymade "scenes," like a sunrise, or color profiles, like "relax," which can stimulate desired moods. Each scene is a real picture, and you can even upload your own photos to use with Hue. Selecting a picture brings up an overlay with icons representing each bulb. You can drag each bulb independently to any point on the picture, and the bulbs will then mimic the color of your chosen point. This all happens in real time, so you can watch the color changes and get exactly the tone and intensity you're looking for.

Preset color profiles were hit or miss in my tests. I really enjoyed the "relax" setting, which created a pleasant and dimmed warm light. The "energize" setting, on the other hand, made me feel like I was under the harsh fluorescent tubes of a drab office. You can also control each bulb individually, without using scenes or color profiles, so you can set an infinite number of color combinations and intensities. You can also label each bulb, and control which scenes apply to which bulbs.

UK LED headlights go to Le Mans

27. března 2013 v 4:20 street light
LED headlights for endurance race cars has been launched by Derbyshire-based RaceTech Harnessing. They will make their debut at the 2013 Sebring 12hrs in Florida, and are being installed for the Le Mans 24 hour race.

The endurance race lights joint a range of LED headlights that RaceTech has developed over the past few years.
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UK sub-contractors provide the parts. DK Thermal of Hertfordshire, for example, provides custom metal-backed PCBs to heatsink, connect and locate the LEDs.

"LED intensity, colour temperature and luminous efficacy now supersedes the performance of conventional automotive lighting systems," said DK Thermal. "In addition LEDs are able to withstand shock and vibration much better than conventional light sources and have a very long life-span, which explains their use in a number of road cars."

"We prefer Osram LEDs. It seem to be the only company pushing [car headlight LED] development. Efficacy is improving every six months," said RaceTech director John Truman.

This said, one RaceTech headlight design has an LED from LEDengin - a company specialising in uncompromising heat extraction.

"The beam is always the tricky part. I have tried standard off-the-shelf optics," said Truman. "I use an outside specialist, a local freelance optical designer using Zemax software. The optical designer recommends glass lenses for best performance, which I get made by another local company."

Glass lenses get a clear polycarbonate protective cover, and one model has an 80mm injection moulded plastic lens - this is the one with the LEDengin LED.

So far the company has four different lenses for four different beam geometries, from wide, "almost like a dip beam", said Truman, to narrow angle for longer range.

Endurance racing cars have to have lights on all the time. RaceTech generally recommends a mix of dip-like and main beams, and race teams fit two, four or six lights, all of which go on at night.

"The eye sees blue first, so people see things clearer with LED lights," Smith asserted. "You can see colors clearer. The technology gives much better acuity of vision."

LED lights also cost much less to maintain, about $3,000 per year instead of the $25,300 per year the village spends now, Smith said, because they last an average of 70,000 hours per bulb instead of 20,000 hours per bulb.

It would cost around $522,000 to replace the village's 846 streetlights with LED fixtures, Smith said. A 25 percent matching grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, minus Electrical Solutions Network's 20 percent share for administering the grant application and the project, could cut the project's cost to about $413,700.

"Though we can't guarantee you'd get the grant, we've never been turned down because they can't spend their money fast enough," said Smith. "We would never order any lights until you have the check in hand."

North Aurora Public Works Director Mike Glock proposed installing eight LED streetlights on several test streets throughout the village as a pilot program. Then residents would be asked their thoughts before committing to replacing all the streetlights.

The pilot program would cost $4,000, half of which the village could get back by returning the LED lights if they cancel the replacement plan.

If acting Village Administrator David Summer signs off on the pilot program, staff could implement it in April without further board action because it would cost less than $5,000, noted Trustee Chris Faber.

Trustee Mark Guethle supported the plan. "I've had those LED lights in my house for three or four years," he said. "It took an initial adjustment because of the color difference, but I've had one LED bulb in a fixture for four years and it's still working. They're cooler, cheaper and need less maintenance than regular bulbs."

Obama tries again with TVA nominee Marilyn Brown

26. března 2013 v 4:20 solar photovoltaic system
Ingering Tennessee's two Republican senators, President Barack Obama again wants Senate consideration of energy-efficiency expert Marilyn Brown for a full term on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

The nomination, sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday night, comes more than two months after Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker used Senate procedures to block Obama's previous attempt to appoint her to a six-year term.

Brown, who came to the board in 2010 to fill out a vacated term and served through the end of 2012, is widely recognized for her expertise in energy efficiency and other sustainable-energy policies. She teaches in Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy after formerly working for the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"This is another example of the Obama White House not listening," Alexander said in a statement Friday.

"I told the White House in advance that the TVA board needs a nominee with a better understanding of the relationship between low electricity rates and better jobs in the Tennessee Valley. The Senate now has the responsibility to exercise its constitutional role of advice and consent on the nominee."

"TVA needs leaders who enthusiastically support the mission of producing economical electricity and have an abiding appreciation of its important economic devel opment role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents," he said.

"Unfortunately, during my discussions with Dr. Brown, it was clear she does not share that point of view."Despite their irritation, the senators did not say whether they would again block her name from coming to the Senate floor.

But Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the statements leave little doubt.

"I think it was a pretty clear signal," he said in an interview. But the two senators need to be even more specific about why they don't find her qualified, he said.

"If you are not going to allow it (the nomination), you owe it to the people of the Tennessee Valley," Smith said. "This doesn't make any sense."

Environmentalists were upset with Alexander and Corker in January because they wouldn't explain what aspects of Brown's background made her unqualified for a seat on the board.

Energy efficiency refers to a partnership between energy companies and their customers to provide the same service through the use of less energy.

Customers, often responding to financial incentives provided by utilities, take steps such as using more energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, installing better insulation and window panes, and weatherizing doors. Utilities themselves look to run their power plants more efficiently through better maintenance and other steps.

Clean energy advocates see efficiency efforts and conservation as a means of making construction of new power plants - either nuclear or fossil fuel - unnecessary, saving ratepayers billions of dollars over a decade or more.

Criticisms of energy efficiency abound as well, including charges that the energy price savings achieved through efficiency measures just lead to more consumption - what's called the "rebound effect."

Coldstat Refrigeration Recognized by Green Restaurant Association

25. března 2013 v 3:40 solar power systems
Coldstat Refrigeration earned a special distinction from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) while exhibiting a new line of cold-temperature LED Lighting products at the recent International Restaurant and Foodservice Show in New York City's Javits Center. Since 1990, the GRA has been a national non-profit organization that provides a convenient and cost-effective way for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors and consumers to become more environmentally responsible. Coldstat earned these accolades by demonstrating the energy-reducing lighting products, designed for use in walk-in coolers and freezers, showing that advanced technology for brighter lights that use far less energy exists today.

The LED Light Adapter Kits are designed to work with any conventional screw-in or GU24 based light fixtures. Unlike compact fluorescent bulbs, the LED bulbs are instant-on even in cold temperatures. They are ideal in temperatures between -40 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

When used with the optional Motion Sensor, there is no wasted light usage. With the sensor, the lights go on when the door is opened and can be set to shut off after anywhere from 15 seconds to 30 minutes of inactivity. This greatly reduces unnecessary power use, further enhancing the "Go Green" initiative.

For walk-ins with fluorescent tube lighting, Coldstat has an energy-saving alternative as well. Four-foot, vapor-proof fixtures and low-energy LED lamps deliver sustainable energy savings with payback in as few as six months. The LED tubes are also rated at 50,000 hours of life and with their reduced watt usage and reduced heat output, they are essential for minimal utility cost.

They, too, are designed for wet and cold applications and because they reach their full-light capacity immediately, there's no more waiting for the freezer lights to warm up. These lights are mercury free and easily replace less efficient lighting.

For merchants with glass-door walk-in display cases, Coldstat offers LED Retrofit Kits. These replace the costly, inefficient fluorescent lighting with clean, brilliant LED lighting. These lights reduce operating costs while vastly improving visual displays. The fixtures fit along the glass-door seams so they illuminate from in front of your merchandise, rather than from the rear of from above. This provides a much cleaner and more brilliant display of merchandise.

The LED Retrofit Kits fit all standard walk-in displays, they use long-lasting LED bulbs and average only 23 watts per door, keeping utility costs down.

"We are pleased to be able to bring these cost-saving 'Go Green' sustainable lighting options to our customers and are proud of the distinction by the Green Restaurants Association," said Coldstat President Ion Sarkisian. "We've always done our best to deliver low-cost options to customers and make every effort to provide the best solution for each specific need. This line of products is an extension of those efforts."

The Central Park luminaire, winner of a design competition conducted by the Central Park Conservancy, is the original product around which the industry bases its similarly designed products. The LED version utilizes the SPR reflector system to provide comfortable, pleasing, indirect light. The LED module is Zhaga-compliant, which enables interchangeability with multiple light source manufacturers and facilitates future upgrades. Several luminaire configurations are DLC qualified, enabling compliance with energy efficiency incentive programs.

To upgrade previously installed Central Park luminaires that utilize traditional HID lamps, Sentry Electric offers an LED retrofit kit. A unitized top assembly and center column assembly replace existing HID systems to achieve long-lasting cost reductions along with a highly performing lighting solution. Use of the retrofit kit simplifies the installation process, reduces costs, and minimizes potential disruption to pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

How A Superbulb Massively Brightened 3M's Innovation Pipeline

22. března 2013 v 4:06 street light
Every few months, a lightbulb in Tom Simpson's office would burn out and someone would have to change it. In fact, that's what we all do: It's become almost standard office procedure to be constantly swapping out dead bulbs. They just don't last that long: A 60-watt incandescent is good for 800 to 1,000 hours, about five months of 40-hour work weeks. Fluorescents are worth at least double that, but neither factors in the additional burn from overtime, second shifts, and after-hours cleaning crews.

Simpson didn't realize how wasteful that was until one day in June 2009, when a coworker named Ray Johnston approached him with a new idea. They could combine several technologies including the same mirrored film that helps light most laptop and cell phone screens and channel it, creating a "light guide" for bulbs that managed output from a low-wattage LED. The result would be a sort of superbulb that burned brighter, stayed cooler, and lasted way longer than traditional offerings. It also would emit light in a natural way--a shortcoming of other LED offerings which act more like lasers than lightbulbs.

If all that sounds bit brainy for your standard water cooler conversation, it is: Simpson works at 3M, the $29.6 billion global manufacturer of technological, office, and industrial innovations, including the ubiquitous Post-it note. In 2008, he was manager of the Advanced Concepts group within 3M's Display and Graphics Lab, a team with 20 engineer and scientists, in charge of spotting and bringing bright new ideas to market. "My direction was to find something that provided new options for the business," he says. The result, the 3M LED Advanced Lightbulb, costs $24.88 and was released exclusively through Walmart last August. It burns for 27,500 hours--that's more than 13 years of all-day office life. (Appealing to a bigger market, the company touts it as actually good for 25 years' worth of standard home use.)

The Advanced Lightbulb may be unique, but the way Simpson's team created it isn't. First, they talked to other engineers and scientists around the company to figure out what tech might have additional applications. Then they adapted it for another use. Advanced Concepts is one of a handful of small incubators the company has formed in recent years in order to spot and harness existing intellectual property in new ways, but that's all possible because of a broader internal innovation pipeline that harnesses two internal programs--15 Percent Time and the Tech Forum--to let all engineers find new ways to explore, understand, and piggyback off each other's ideas.

Incubators aside, 3M employees are already known for launching wildly creative side projects that turn into actual products. In the 1920s, for instance, Scotch brand Masking Tape famously spun out of a sandpaper division after an engineer realized that the sticky adhesive he used to keep grit on paper might be toned down to give the paper itself other purposes. Forty years later, another engineer realized that a seemingly failed low-tack adhesive could be added to scraps of paper to make peel-away notes in office reports. That's the origin of the Post-it note.

In recent years, one re-engineered product turned the solid reflective glass bubbles used on street signs into hollow glass bubbles to make both lightweight car parts and as an insulation additive necessary for deep sea oil pipelines. Another transitioned a fire protection fluid developed to protect data centers to preserve the world's largest squid in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. Prior to its use in the superbulb, a variation of their reflective film was re-geared into a protective window film that blocks UV rays to help protect art installations.

OutBack powers up new space in Arlington

21. března 2013 v 3:55 solar charger
OutBack Power Technologies has been added to the list of businesses that have moved in at Arlington Advanced Manufacturing Park. The Arlington-based company that designs and manufactures advanced power electronics to support renewable energy systems began moving into their new home on March 18.

OutBack Power general manager Harvey Wilkinson expects the move to be completed by the end of April by which time the company also plans to hire a few more employees.

There were several reasons behind OutBack's move.

"Number one was more space because we're expanding," Wilkinson said. The new location at the manufacturing park will allow the business to spread out to a total of 42,000 square feet, more room than they had at the nearby previous address.

The second reason for the move was an upgrade of the facilities and the addition of a dedicated space in which to offer their certificate training classes. All will now be in one location.

The company had their eye on the Arlington Advanced Manufacturing Park, the former Bayliner boat factory, as a potential location for some time before the actual deal was made, Wilkinson said. The company needed additional space and the plan was to try to stay in the Arlington area. It's a convenient location for employees commuting both from north and south of Snohomish County and they wanted to retain their current employee base.

OutBack also liked the other tenants at the manufacturing park and the fact it met their high-tech type of requirements.

"We like the Arlington area as well," Wilkinson said. "So we were happy to be able to find a space in Arlington."

OutBack Power is known globally for its renewable energy power conversion products that can function both on the grid and in microgrid applications found in rural communities. The part they play in renewable energy systems often gets overlooked by the general public, yet is a vital link in the process.

"When people think solar, they think panels and all that is happening from that standpoint. But it goes well beyond that," Wilkinson said.

The company's products help convert energy at off-grid areas as diverse as children's camps in England, rural Navajo communities in New Mexico, hospitals in Haiti and historic tea plantations in India.

The industry has gotten more competitive worldwide but the demand remains for this type of equipment and for firms that can provide products capable of reliability in remote areas or that can function under harsh environmental conditions.

"We're into our second consecutive year of solid double-digit growth," Wilkinson said. He credits part of that growth to the company's partnership with Bellingham-based Alpha Technologies, a company dedicated to creating technologically advanced yet cost-effective power solutions for emerging markets.

OutBack has garnered kudos of its own. Pike Research named OutBack a leading vendor in the remote micro-grid market. Seattle Business magazine recently nominated the company as a candidate for its Emerging Manufacturer of the Year award.

Additionally, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, a national renewable energy professional certification organization, has approved a fast track three-day curriculum to be offered to solar photovoltaic installers in the training room at OutBack's new location.

"We'll be running one to two classes per month to start," said OutBack senior marketing manager Mark Cerasuolo. "We expect this will be an industry leading initiative. This is not just product training like manufacturers in our industry, and others, typically offer."

The other news that has excited some interest in the local community is that OutBack hopes to hire additional workers in the near future. The company's primary need is for engineers but there may be additional hiring in other areas as the year progresses.

Will the Bay Lights Inspire Other Cities to Merge Art With Technology?

20. března 2013 v 3:53 street light
Think of it as the biggest "Turn On" of 2013. In early March, artist Leo Villareal's much-anticipated work, The Bay Lights, finally went live to much fanfare in San Francisco, Calif. The bold, breathtaking algorithm-astic piece of art graces the northern span of the Bay Bridge and features 25,000 white LED bulbs across 1.8 miles (from Treasure Island to San Francisco). At its highest point it soars roughly 250 feet into the air.

It is the largest LED light sculpture in the world and the flowing light patterns are certainly delicious eye candy. It's the best thing to experience this year.

But the Bay Lights is more than just a visual feast. It's a living, moving example of how art can help transform a city -- on many fronts -- and it certainly illuminates the importance of public art, in general. In an era where traditional funding, respect and attention to gutsy creative endeavors seems to have waned dramatically, shifting to the more distracting fancies found in the blather of Facebook updates, the dumbed-down faux connections Twitter spawns, or the empty mental calories found in reality TV, the Bay Lights is proving to be a remarkable concept.

Here are three reasons why:

1) Connection. The work has the ability to attract people, sure, but it also manages to create connections. Much like a campfire stimulates conversation and participation from those surrounding it, the Bay Lights is doing something similar. It doesn't hurt that it's eye-catching -- from many points around and in San Francisco and the Bay -- but the added perk is that you can connect with somebody next to you who is also experiencing the same thing you are. "It's definitely a focal point in which people can gather around," Villareal told me recently.

2) Art Marries Technology Beyond "connection," the work unites art with technology. And if there's one thing Northern Californians really dig -- especially Silicon Valley -- it's "techy" things. The LED bulbs, spaced nearly a foot apart along roughly 100,000 feet of bridge cables, are connected to individually programmed electrical boxes at various points along the bridge. Villareal, who rose to fame creating art with light over the last decade -- attending Burning Man stoked those imaginative fires -- created the codes and patterns seen on the bridge. The patterns generated never replicate. Installation spanned many months and, in many cases, was done in harsh weather conditions. Something cool: a live stream of the Bay Lights has the ability to attract millions (billions?) of onlookers to the work online.

3) Economic Boost The work will lure travelers near and far into the city. Estimates note that the project will funnel $97 million into the local economy over the next two years. Not bad. Upcoming, high-profile events, such as the Port of San Francisco's 150th Anniversary on April 24, and America's Cup later this year will attract swarms of visitors, but many will also flock to various points of interest in and around San Francisco to experience the project.

The bottom line: Villareal's work can be used as a model for how other cities can become more inventive with their own infrastructures and public art.

"I really appreciate how this can draw the attention back to infrastructure as we move from 30 to 50 million people in California -- 7 billion people on the planet," Davis told me in a recent interview. "We need to have systems in place, and infrastructure is important and ... we are going to need to re-imagine how we are going to make that happen as a society. So now, we have a shimmering beacon [The Bay Lights] as a reminder here."

Darien dump fees could go up

19. března 2013 v 4:24 solar photovoltaic system
The committee also suggested eliminating the pro-rated landscaper fees because of the expense of having haul out leaves and grass, which is what most pro-rated permit holders dispose of. This fee is $75, or half the cost of a regular landscaper permit.

Stolar suggested the Representative Town Meeting take a look at the public works ordinance that defines landscaping permits.

Commercial fees for disposing leaves were proposed to go from $55 a ton to $70 a ton, which is equal to City Carting's fee, Stolar said. Wood chips would go from $40 a ton to $70, and grass clippings would go from $55 a ton to $85. All changes are still pending Board of Selectmen approval.

Selectman John Lundeen expressed concern that raising tipping fees for landscapers might increase that group's tendency to dump leaves and grass illegally.

"People should be aware they're dumping into watercourses," Lundeen said, adding that this affects silt levels in other water bodies, which could lead to the need to dredge. "I'm a little concerned that by raising the price for commercial haulers, we give them more incentive to cheat the system and dump those things on other areas in town where they shouldn't be."

Stolar said as part of her committee's education platform they could include information on proper debris disposal, and potential penalties if not followed, to the landscapers in a letter to them on the fee increases, should the selectmen choose to raise fees.

The committee would also like to see the dump accept compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, for recycling. These bulbs contain mercury and must not be broken when recycled. This would cost the town less than $3,000 annually, Stolar said, to allow residents to bring bulbs to the dump.

Currently, residents have few options to recycle these bulbs, which use less energy and output less heat than incandescent bulbs. The schools currently put all CFL bulbs in original packaging and leave them for City Carting to take, although it's unclear what happens after that, said Dr. Stephen Falcone, schools superintendent, in an email to The Darien Times.

However, state law might soon implement what's called a "source responsible" method of CFL disposal, which would mean stores that sell the bulbs would have to take the old ones.

Stevenson advised the town get ahead on CFL disposal, and not wait for what could be years before the state requires merchants to accept the bulbs.

Clothes recycling, or textiles, has also been a suggested addition for the dump. This could reduce solid waste by up to 5% in about three years, and would produce revenue of around $100 per ton.

Stevenson suggested the committee also examine proposed state legislation that would require mattresses to be recycled. Stolar said that was something her committee would look into.

"The total of our recommendations calculates to be $130,497" in additional revenue, Stolar said, "however; since the number of permits and the amount of material being tipped may decrease, thus resulting in less revenue, using $100,000 as a target revenue increase allows for some potential reduction in usage."

Local manufacturing companies

18. března 2013 v 3:37 solar power systems
The household appliance market overseas and in Malaysia is expected to drive the growth of local manufacturing companies supporting the consumer goods industry in 2013.

This is due to the steadily rising demand for household appliances, especially in the Asia-Pacific market, while the demand for audio-visual products such as light-emitting-diode (LED) television softens, especially in mature economies.

The situation has influenced printed-circuit-board (PCB) manufacturers like GUH Holdings Bhd to turn to the household appliance segment for fresh business opportunities.

"It used to be the audio-visual product market such as LED televisions that drove the sales of our PCBs.

"But because of the decline in demand for audio-visual products since last year, we are now enlarging our sales to multi-national corporations (MNCs) producing branded washing machines and refrigerators with energy-saving features.

This year, the group plans to increase its production of specially designed double-sided PCBs manufactured in Suzhou and Penang to 70,000 sq m per month from 50,000 sq m in 2012.

"The household appliance segment's contribution should be around 60% this year, while the audio-visual segment's contribution should be around 40%, down from 60% previously," he said.

H'ng said the group's LED lighting business would also offset the impact from the audio-visual segment.

"We are getting more new orders from customers worldwide for our PCBs used in large-screen displays and general high-brightness lighting markets.

"These PCBs are produced by our plant in Suzhou," H'ng added.

For the 2012 fiscal year ended December 2012, the group posted an RM46.8mil pre-tax profit on the back of RM280mil revenue, compared with RM43.9mil pre-tax profit and RM311mil revenue a year earlier.

According to the Germany-based GfK research house, the global unit sales of LED-backlight LCD televisions is forecast to grow 4% year-on-year to 217 million in 2013.

"This, however, is well down on the 11% growth achieved in 2011. Growth in emerging markets is projected to offset a slight reduction across developed regions, but will slow compared with last year's levels," the GfK report said.

In mature markets such as Japan and Western Europe, sales are projected to remain subdued, declining by 1% year-on-year, according to the GfK report.

CT Frank Technology Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Roland Beh Cheng Siong said due to the declining global market for LED televisions and competitive pricing, the company's LED television business would generate about 10% of the group's revenue in 2013, compared with about 30% in 2012.

About 65% of the company's 2013 revenue would be generated by household appliance products such as jug kettles, thermo pots, water heaters, rice cookers and gas stoves under the inhouse brand ISONIC for the domestic market.

"The remaining 35% would be driven by our LED televisions and large smart display products with interactive and touch-screen features," he said.

Our washing machines with energy-saving features lead in overseas sales, after rice cookers and ovens, which are outperforming the audio-visual product segment.

"Our LED lighting products' marketed brandname Carinae would also contribute significantly to the group's revenue this year," he said.

Chew said the domestic market for household appliance had matured, with local customers going for built-in kitchen appliances rather than standalone products.

UV LED market primed

15. března 2013 v 3:49 street light
LEDs emitting light in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum increasingly will replace incumbent technologies such as mercury, Yole Développement analyst Pars Mukish writes in its most recent study, titled "UV LEDs: Technology and Application Trends". What make LEDs so competitive are properties like compactness, low cost of ownership and environmentally-friendly composition.

UV curing is the most dynamic and the most important market for vendors of UV LEDs. The entire value chain is pushing for the technology's adoption-from manufacturers of UV LED modules and systems to ink formulators. With the recent acquisition of Fusion UV by Heraueus, all major UV curing system manufacturers are now involved in the UV LED technology transition. In 2012, applications in the UVA and UVB part of the spectrum represented 89 per cent of the overall UV LED market.

UVC applications are still in their infancy; UVC devices are mainly sold for R&D purposes and analytic instruments like spectrometers. However, the market for UVC applications could kick into gear within the next two years, Mukish believes. The reason: Publications about the qualification examination of such LEDs in recent times have climbed by as much as 10 per cent, and recently the world's first UVC LED-based disinfection system went into commercial production.

In addition to traditional applications such as UV lamps replacement and due to their favourable properties compared to mercury lamps, UV LEDs are creating new applications that aren't accessible to these traditional UV light sources. This holds particularly true for applications requiring portability and small dimensions. Examples for these products that have been brought to market are nail curing systems, cell phone disinfection systems and counterfeit money detectors.

Over the past few years, the booming UVA/UVB market has already attracted new players, the study says. Each player employs a different strategy for capturing the maximum value created by this disruptive technology-horizontal integration from UV lamp to UV LED), vertical integration (from UV LED device to UV LED system) or both. The study sees traditional UV lamp manufacturers under the most pressure since they have to compensate for the waning lamp replacement market by diversifying their activities. Once UVC LEDs achieve sufficient performance, there will be no way a manufacturer will allow the opportunity to pass them by. Once this opportunity will be evident, the supply chain will become a "mess", says market expert Mukish. The reason: The value chain will reach a degree of competitiveness that will make consolidation necessary.

The study also contains a number of statements with regard to the UV LED materials. For example, AIN on sapphire templates with their right mix between cost and performance are definitively the substrate of choice for UVA applications. However, for UVC and to some extend for UVB applications the competition with bulk AIN substrate is tough, since such material could allow for improvement in terms of lifetime, efficiency and power output. Another issue will be at the epitaxy level, and this barrier will have to be overcome in order to see commercialisation of UV LED-based disinfection and purification systems.

Omni New York among Con Ed’s energy extroverts

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Con Edison today honored building owners, property managers and contractors who led the way in 2012 in making energy- and money-saving efficiency upgrades in multifamily buildings.

Con Edison's multifamily program provides owners of residential buildings with five to 75 units free energy-efficiency surveys and incentives for heating and lighting upgrades to common areas.

Once a building is enrolled, residents can receive free compact fluorescent bulbs, smart strips and water-saving devices.

"Our multifamily energy-efficiency program is at its most successful when owners and managers work with our installation contractors to upgrade to modern lighting, HVAC and other equipment," said Gregory Elcock, manager of Con Edison's multifamily program. "These honorees made buildings more comfortable for tenants and helped ensure that New York City remains a clean, safe place to live and work."

Winn Residential of Boston was named Property Owner of the Year for improving the efficiency of a 38-building housing complex in the Bronx.

The three electrical contractors that delivered the most electric energy savings were Riverdale Electrical Services of the Bronx, which saved an estimated 825,000 kilowatt hours, ID Lighting Solutions of Brooklyn (475,000 kilowatt hours), and Green Light of Lakewood, N.J. (325,000 kilowatt hours). The savings from these electrical contractors were the equivalent of removing more than 90 vehicles from the road for a year.

The three gas contractors that provided the most savings were Entech Digital Controls of Lakewood, N.J., which saved an estimated 225,000 therms, U.S. Energy Group of Queens (71,000 therms), and Calray Gas Heat Corp. of the Bronx (70,500 therms). The savings from the work of these gas contractors were the equivalent of removing more than 300 vehicles from the road for a year.

Con Edison named the New York City Housing Authority the Public Partner of the Year for completing a massive energy-efficiency project in public housing units in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

The lights have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours and can help improve energy efficiency by anything between 50 and 80 per cent.

"The security CCTV images are much improved because the LED floodlights are whiter. "We are looking at installing an extra light to illuminate the car park."

Andrew Bache, business manager at Abbey Gate College, Cheshire, said: "The real appeal of Marl LED lights for us is the convenience and improvement in the environment.

"Though the sodium lights were adequate for football and gymnastics, the hall is also used for examinations and social events.

"We were able to dramatically increase the light level in the hall, ensuring the corners as well as the central area is brightly lit.

"The LED lights are much whiter and very much more even, since the output of the sodium lamps degrades noticeably as they age."

HiViz LED Lighting

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HiViz LED Lighting has expanded its Southeast presence with the addition of Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus, in Ocala, FL, to better offer its FireTech line of brow lights, scene lights, and handheld emergency lighting solutions. Hall-Mark's close proximity to E-One is reflective of their close business relationship with the fire apparatus manufacturer and industry leader. "We are committed to meeting our customers' needs through continuous improvement and innovation. We think HiViz LEDs FireTech Lighting Solutions are an excellent addition to our offerings." Says Dee Daniels, Equipment Sales Manager of Hall-Mark Fire.

Hall-Mark signed on with HiViz LED Lighting in January and was quick to invite them to show the FireTech brand lighting solutions at the Fire Rescue East show held in Daytona Beach in late January. "Our customers were genuinely excited to see the lighting solution alternatives from HiViz LEDs", says Dee Daniels of Hall-Mark Fire. "I have several customers who have already asked for pricing on the FireTech low profile brow light."

HiViz LEDs introduced the first low profile, life time warranty family of brow lights in 2012 at the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo in Raleigh (SAFRE) and drew quite a bit of excitement at that show as well. "We have expanded our offering and features with the brow light and were pleased to show them at the Hall-Mark booth during the Daytona show." offers Sam Massa, owner and President of HiViz LEDs Lighting Solutions. "For example, in our brow light offering we now have embedded market lights, as well as, what we call 'split circuitry' that allows only the portions of the brow light needed to be used. This includes a center spot light and then wider flood lights as you go outward to the edge of the light bar."

"We are committed to the fire apparatus distributors as our resellers because we know they have formed trusted relationships with the fire departments." Massa of HiViz LEDs adds, "We not only want to provide expertise to our resellers, we also train them so that they become the front line of experts for their customers."

"Hall-Mark Fire has proven they can be the front line expert and they have the people, shop resources, and presence to provide quality solutions to their customers. We're glad to be part of their offering." Says James Christopher, Manager of Dealer Development for HiViz LED Lighting.

"LED lighting is the next wave of lighting technology. HiViz offers a full range of solutions including our SuperCharge Rebuild Program for handheld solutions" Adds Mark Miller, Program Manager for HiViz LEDs. "Our program offers existing fire departments the ability to recycle and upgrade their existing LiteBox so that it is 35 times brighter. It becomes a whole new tool for them providing unparalleled handheld scene lighting"

HiViz LEDs lighting solutions for the emergency, fire, rescue market include the FireTech low profile Brow Light, FireTech scene lights, apparatus work lights, self contained Emergency Response Kits, compartment lights, and handheld lighting solutions. All lights come with the industry's only LifeTime Warranty.

HiViz LEDs FireTech solutions include several patented and trademarked technologies. Sam Massa explains, "Three things that make HiViz LED FireTech lighting solutions superior to our competition. First, the 'pulse width modulation technology' which maximizes the light output to nearly 90% of the LED lumens rating. Our competition can typically only drive their LEDs to between 60% and 70% of their stated lumens rating. That's why our lights are so bright."

Massa continues, "Second are our 'split optics technology'. For example in the low profile brow light, we give the Fire Department three lights in one brow light by providing spot, scene and flood patterns each controlled on a separate circuit. In the Work Lights we give both spot and flood light patterns all at the same time."

China to address mercury pollution

12. března 2013 v 3:59 solar photovoltaic system
"The discharge of mercury into water will harm the local environment, while emissions in the air may have regional and even global influence through long-range transport in the atmosphere and deposition in remote areas," said a team member of the SINOMER project.

"Mercury emissions in the air tends to flow from low to high-latitude regions, so we need joint effort from across the world to deal with it," he explained.

The first phase of the project - SINOMER I, completed in 2009 - was a case study in Guizhou, a Southwest China province known for its abundant reserves of mercury, its long history in exploitation of the heavy metal and pollution that resulted.

SINOMER I found serious mercury pollution in the Wanshan mercury mining area of Guizhou. The largest center of mercury mining in China, it was selected as the best choice for a pilot test zone in mercury pollution remediation.

The local government has already begun cleanup of mercury-contaminated sites in the area, but the methods are not efficient enough to reduce the overall environmental impact, according to recent research.

Based on the data collected in SINOMER I, a second phase will first evaluate the efficiency remediation measures used by the local government, and then choose a typical field for further study of remediation methods.

The technology assessment will focus on coal combustion, zinc smelting, restoration of mercury mining sites and industrial use of mercury.

Experts say coal combustion is the dominant mercury emission source in China, and expect it will continue growing along with the country's rapid economic development.

Smelting of non-ferrous metals, such as zinc, is another major source of mercury emissions. But more than 60 percent of the zinc production in China is centralized in just a few dozen large-scale enterprises, so that will be an advantage in pollution control, the team member said.

SINOMER II will evaluate the flow of mercury during coal combustion and zinc smelting, assess the efficiency of mercury removal in the existing pollution control devices and analyze the cost-benefit ratios in technologies that remove mercury.

Based on experiences in China and other countries, scientists will propose control strategies. "With improvements in our understanding and capacity, more effective mercury control technologies are likely," he said.

China is one of the world's major mercury producers with an output of 1,203 tons in the first 11 months last year. A large amount of mercury is processed to manufacture catalysts, or directly used in the production of batteries, fluorescent tubes and medical devices such as thermometers and blood pressure instruments.

He called for "stronger efforts" to reduce the use of mercury in industry. "A better overview of the production and use of mercury is needed to find the most efficient measures," he said. "We also need alternatives for industries."

SINOMER II also hosts an international mercury pollution control workshop each year, inviting scientists for companies and government agencies to enhance cooperation on control technologies and policies. The first workshop was held in November 2010.

Harvard women building a smarter soccer ball

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Kick a ball, power a lamp, light up the world. At its core, that's what Soccket is, a regulation-sized soccer ball with a fist-sized technology pack tucked inside that produces and stores a small but dynamic electrical charge.

The ball rolls, charging a tiny battery with each rotation, and ultimately the round objet d'art of the world's most widely played sport builds up with enough juice to run an LED lamp for 72 hours.

"That's the max charge," noted Soccket's lead techie, Victor Angel, a 25-year-old engineering graduate of Boston University. "What we typically tell people is that 30 minutes of playing with it yields enough energy for about three hours of light. To get 72 hours, it requires a full charge of 16 hours.

"We just don't want people to think they have to be out there playing soccer for 16 hours to make it work."

Soccket is the brainchild of two 2010 Harvard alums, Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman, neither of whom majored in engineering in their undergraduate days. Matthews, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Silverman, from Chicago, enrolled in an engineering class for non-engineers (Engineering Sciences 147) during their junior year and were tasked with designing a multiplayer game that would address a world development issue.

The project immediately led the two women to a hamster ball - the squishy, foamy, grapefruit-sized playtoy of pet rodents around the planet. Matthews and Silverman slipped a shake-to-charge flashlight inside the ball, booted it around campus like a couple of Revolution All-Stars and, voila, they had at their toes a prototype energy source good for bringing small but nonetheless important units of electrical energy to some of the darkest, most remote corners of the world.

Pele may be the Black Pearl of soccer, but non-athletes Matthews and Silverman one day may be remembered as the game's Crimson Diamonds.

"When you see kids play with Soccket for the first time, it's surreal," said Angel, who grew up in Mexico, where, once outside of Mexico City, access to electricity is often intermittent or nonexistent. "We took it to Tlaquepaque [about three hours east of Mexico City] for a pilot program, and the kids [ages 7-12] loved it.

"They were quick to engage. They know soccer, so there's that playful aspect to it from the start. And then they see how it powers the light, and they're like, 'Oh, wow!' "

One of the kids, recalled Angel, initially thought Soccket might be an instructional tool to teach the blind how to play soccer. Another child, upon finally understanding how the technology and lithium ion battery worked, suggested it could be applied to roller skates to generate a similar charge.

"It's inspiring," said Angel, "to see how people take to innovation with such a creative mind-set."

The Soccket ball has come a long way from its humble hamster roots, thanks to Angel's handiwork and the constant urgings of Matthews and Silverman to improve their product. The current iteration, tech pack included, is a mere 2 ounces heavier than a standard 15-ounce soccer ball.

The surface of the ball incorporates a small plastic flip cap, about the size of a US quarter, that covers the electrical socket for the LED lamp to connect. The lamp's cord is fitted with a tiny plug, identical in size and shape to the plug that connects headphones to iPhones, portable CD players, and the like.

"We specifically didn't want it to look like a wall socket," said Angel. "We didn't want people trying to plug in a blender or other household appliances."

The Soccket also has an adapter plug to charge an iPhone4. Conceivably, a 30-minute pickup game in the African bush could be the ticket to an Internet hookup via smartphone. A connection to the Whiner Line or "Toucher and Rich" in places no one ever imagined. Such miracles.

How LED lighting could help cut food waste

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Changing the lightbulbs could help supermarkets reduce the estimated 300,000 tonnes of food waste they produce each year, according to one lighting company.

Welsh firm Sedna LED reckons illuminating fresh produce with lightbulbs that emit heat causes food to sweat in its packaging, contributing to the food waste mountain that costs retailers millions of pounds each year.

As a result, the company is arguing that in addition to cutting energy bills, LED lights could also help keep food fresh.

"Unlike conventional lighting, LED lighting does not emit heat or any UV or IR rays, so food stays fresher for longer," the company said in a statement. "LED light sources can be placed in close vicinity to food for an enhanced aesthetic effect, but with no danger of premature food deterioration."

Supermarkets have made strides in tackling the problem through initiatives such as improving storage advice, trialling packaging that keeps food fresher for longer, and using old food for energy rather than sending it to landfill.

But campaigners have continued to highlight a problem that costs the economy billions of pounds and leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

In related news, the hospitality sector has this week become the latest industry to announce a new initiative to halve the amount of food waste it sends to landfill each year.

A study by the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum blamed a lack of anaerobic digestive (AD) capacity along with inconsistent nationwide waste contractor coverage for the fact that over 50 per cent of the food waste generated by its 12,000 restaurants and pubs is currently going to landfill.

The Forum is now evaluating options to help reduce its impact, which could include building a dedicated new AD plant for Hospitality Forum members or transporting food waste to existing AD plants.

There are currently around 200 AD plants in the UK providing roughly 170MW of capacity, around one per cent of the capacity found in Germany.

Proponents say the technology is a sustainable way of generating both electricity and biogas, which could generate up to 10 per cent of the UK's domestic gas demand as a cheap and secure alternative to natural gas imports.

However, the industry has warned the subsidies available to the technology are not sufficient to drive widespread take up.

The rooms in the SCALA Turm Hotel are unique in that natural light plays a key role. Most of the exterior walls are glass and the bathrooms have transparent walls, flooding the rooms with light. The LED design complements these natural conditions with a unique light set-up that uses refined accents and hides the luminaires in the background, allowing for an airy and floating room atmosphere. The interior design is also kept free of decoration.

Corridors in the hotel can also be immersed in numerous RGB light scenes. The corridors that are without natural daylight are provided with a multi-faceted LED system that reproduces, among other effects, a sunlight spectrum. A motion-sensor control ensures the SSLs are only used when needed, a cost-saving measure.

National Chain Presents Plans For New Overton Store

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The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board (MVTAB) heard a zoning request at its meeting on Wednesday night from another large national corporation seeking to build a new store in the Moapa Valley community. Beau Woodring, Managing Partner from Southwest General Development LLC, presented plans for a new Dollar General store which is being proposed on a vacant lot facing Moapa Valley Blvd. between Whitmore and Oliver Streets in Overton.

Dollar General is a company based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. According to the company website, it is the nation's largest small-box discount retailer with 10,000 stores in 40 states.

"It is similar to a Walgreens but without a pharmacy," explained Woodring during the meeting. "It carries national brand goods with pricing comparable, and sometimes even beating Walmart."

Woodring displayed a site plan and elevation drawings for the building. He explained that the buildings are usually done in earthtones with the lower level in brick or split-faced block and the upper level with dark brown and green canopies. The building will exhibit block veneer and stucco on all four sides, he said.

The site plan showed a significant amount of landscaping being proposed to beautify the area.

"We have about 265 plants going into the lot," Woodring said. "It will be a jungle in there."

MVTAB member Desiree Temple asked if the company was being asked to do any off-site improvements. Woodring responded that they would be doing significant improvements along Moapa Valley Blvd. including sidewalks, curbs, gutters, street lights and half-street improvements. In addition, the company would have to install water lines to the location from the nearest service at Whitmore Ave., Woodring said.

MVTAB Chairman Gene Houston asked when the company planned to begin building the structure.

"If you gave me a business license today, we'd get started in the next week," Woodring said. "In other words as soon as possible."

The zoning request being heard before the board dealt with waivers of development requirements demanded by the Moapa Valley Overlay District, which, among other things, imposes standards for new businesses in the downtown area.

One of those requirements is that the front of commercial structures should be built close to the roadside and parking should be provided in the rear of the building. The applicant was asking for a waiver to this requirement.

"We are asking for this waiver because of the shape of the parcel," Woodring said. "It has this odd triangular shape and we couldn't design it to get the parking in the back. Also we are kind of opposed to having parking in the back of the buildings. It brings a lot of problems. That is where muggings occur and other kinds of trouble."

"Did the overlay district really create parking in the rear?" asked MVTAB chairman Gene Houston. "I don't know why we would have done that. It doesn't make much sense."

Houston asked what type of exterior lighting was proposed for the parking lot around the building. Woodring explained that the company had been required to submit a photometric plan for lighting. It provided for diffuse lighting that was contained as much as possible to the parking lot.

Those new lights: will they hurt you?

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We're all switching to those new lights. Well, they're not so new. Compact fluorescents have been around for several years. Even light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, which is expensive but gaining popularity, is no longer novel. Both save lots of energy compared with the standard round lightbulb, ubiquitous for a century. But there are some things that you should know.

The standard bulbs are being forced out of existence by federal laws. Already, 100-watt lightbulbs can no longer be manufactured and sold in the US. By next year, the same fate will befall 75-watt lightbulbs.

First, remember that what appears as white light to the human eye is always a combination of red, green and blue light. If additional colors are present in the mix, the light still looks white. Now, because almost everything we see contains mixtures of light, the only way to know what is actually present in any light is to use a spectroscope.

This wonderful device unscrambles the mixture and reveals light's components. When a spectroscope is pointed toward the Sun, the Moon, any star or galaxy in the universe, a candle or old-fashioned round lightbulbs, it shows virtually the same thing. All these light sources are made of the spectral colors - all of them: the colors of a rainbow.

What a spectroscope does not show is that all natural sources also emit healthy doses of infrared. Though our eyes cannot see this, our skin senses it as heat. And thereby lies the problem. Ordinary lightbulbs produce more heat than light. This is not a problem in winter, when it helps warm the house. But in summer this energy is totally wasted. Indeed, a bunch of lightbulbs burning in July may be doubly wasteful, because then the air conditioner must work harder. Moreover, those bulbs emit "extra" colors like orange, yellow and violet.

Compact fluorescents, on the other hand, which glow by a process unseen in nature - the electrical excitation of mercury vapor - emit solely wavelengths of red, green and blue, with almost no infrared, which is why they are much cooler to the touch. They also emit no other colors. No wonder a mere 15 watts of power can create the same white light intensity as an old-fashioned 60-watt bulb. So if we really want to reduce our energy consumption, and not have to generate as much electricity - about half of which comes from burning filthy coal - forcing everyone to switch to fluorescent and LED lighting is a great idea.

There is one problem, however. The light, though it looks just as white as a standard lightbulb, is unnatural. Is this bad? Should this matter?

There is increasing evidence that ambient light affects health. For example, two independent epidemiological studies show that breast cancer is strongly correlated with women whose lifestyles prevent them from being exposed to nightly darkness. The mechanism appears to be blood levels of melatonin. Normally, melatonin serum levels are low by day and high by night. Exposure to visible light, including artificial light, suppresses the normal nocturnal production of melatonin by the pineal gland. In people who work night shifts, whose job or home location keeps them exposed to artificial illumination during the night, the body fails to gain normal melatonin levels. Bottom line: Get a night's sleep in a dark place. If you live in a bright city, close those shades and curtains.

So light does affect us, sometimes powerfully. And this brings us full circle back to the compact fluorescents and LED lighting. True, they save energy. But they bathe us and our children, who now are surrounded by this light at school and at home, with wavelengths that nature produces nowhere in the universe.

Crossing into the poorest country in the world

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You may not expect it, because many places in Africa struggle with poverty and strife. In fact, Rwanda is synonymous with it. Sitting in the troubled heart of central Africa.

But travel to Rwanda today and find a country reminiscent of an Asian holiday resort or even at times the Balearic Islands.

It is nonetheless a country in the shadow of the mid-90s genocide when over 200,000 were murdered. It may forever be known for that scar on the nation.

It still has many social issues, and the Hutu and Tutsi tribes that were at the centre of a country ripping itself apart in the 1994 war, live an uneasy peace together. They remember too - a giant national memorial reminds people what happened.

But as you drive on its smooth paved roads and look at its spotless pavements, all illuminated by street lighting and controlled by western style police cars, you are clearly in a country President Paul Kagame sees as being on the move.

Mr Kagame is originally of the Tutsi tribe, but to his credit, tribes are not mentioned these days and the population refers to themselves as Rwandan - part of the healing process.

But the striking thing about Rwanda is not this small central African country itself, but its giant troubled neighbour, Congo.

When I crossed the border here on Thursday, it stood for everything that can go wrong in Africa; when governance fails, when rebellion overcomes the countryside, when the people starve.

At the border between Rwanda and Congo, you must first present endless reams of paperwork and ID to Rwandan border guards.

Then you must walk across the frontier to the red wrought iron fence controlled by the Congolese army.

The walk lasts minutes, just a few hundred metres, but you pass into a country a century behind Rwanda and indeed most of its African neighbours, which themselves would be decades behind development in the west, according to any UN index.

Now as you glance back at once troubled Rwanda, you are standing in the poorest country on Earth. To leave the Democratic Republic of Congo, you will need fresh reams of paperwork.

The people here have suffered decades of war over the rich minerals that line their hills. Much like the rich pastures that Kipling correctly observed could feed the world many times over.

They still cultivate the steep slopes, but the people gain little from it. This country can barely feed its own, let alone govern vast swathes of this the 11th largest country in the world.

In the undeveloped east, far from the capital Kinshasa, there are no paved roads and there are few street lights for the people of Congo.

Depending on what rebel group controls which sectors, there are few police, while UN troops are relied on for much of the security.

In a seldom seen dark corner of Africa, millions are in dire need of help. Ireland at one time had a large contingent of troops here. Serving with the UN, a number of the soldiers died here.

That was the early '60s and not much has changed. This country is not one on the move, it is still in need of help and the reams of paperwork to get out are not easy to obtain.

Memorial Bridge spans a century

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Harmon Heald's 157-year-old plaza has been the focal point of Healdsburg since the town was incorporated in 1867, but the Russian River has long been an important part of work life and recreation for the area - and so has the Memorial Bridge that crosses a section of it, just south of town.

Local residents and visitors are about to discover just how important, as later this year a planned rehabilitation of the structure will force the closing of the bridge for up to a year or longer.
After a long fight to keep the nearly 100-year-old span intact and preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, engineers will be upgrading, refitting and strengthening the bridge.

"It's a complete rehabilitation," says City of Healdsburg Public Works Director Mike Kirn, who said the work will include seismic strengthening, complete repainting and new center pier or foundation, pedestrian walkways, barriers, fencing, sidewalks and vehicle surface. The timing of the renovations is still being determined as local residents and city officials work to determine routes around the bridge while it's closed. "We hope to begin the water work this summer and the actual structural upgrade starting late this fall."

Krin said there will be discussion on this issue at the upcoming City Council meeting on March 4.

The long battle over the future of the bridge and now how people will face not having it for several months is evidence the bridge is as important to the community today as it was when it was first built in 1921.

"Healdsburg and Northern Sonoma County residents feel a strong attachment to this bridge," says Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society Curator Holly Hoods, who has written about the bridge. "It is a beloved local landmark. For people who grew up coming to Healdsburg it is one of their major memories. Mel Amato and Friends of Healdsburg Memorial Bridge led the efforts to recognize the historical importance of the bridge and the efforts to preserve it. I am grateful to them and to Healdsburg City Council for promoting the rehabilitation of the bridge."

Before the railroads reached Healdsburg in the early 1870s, the city had no bridge of any type over the Russian River, says Hoods. During floods, the city would be cut off for days at time. A few landowners operated a ferry service near where the current bridge now stands.

Finally, in 1921 the current bridge was constructed. A Pennsylvania Petit truss bridge, it was replacing what would normally be wooden supports with heavier metal materials. Work on the new bridge began in June 1921 and finished late that fall. According to historical accounts at the time, nine carloads of steel were delivered for the construction and the builders - the American Bridge Company - needed an additional 30 days to overcome problems sinking the cofferdam, which is the water tight , dry enclosure used for projects built under bodies of water. Once that was completed, however, the crew faced a serious deadline - finishing the bridge before the winter rains and other inclement weather arrived. They made it in the nick of time and the bridge was accepted by county officials in December 1921.

"It is a beautiful bridge with a raised walk at either side, outside the truss work, for pedestrians and a wide floor inside for vehicle traffic. At either end, set at both sides, are massive concrete walls, in each which is set two decorative light posts. Other lights are set at regular intervals on both sides of the bridge."