Květen 2013

GE badge could be put on ice

20. května 2013 v 9:01 solar charger
Blankenship is the new head of the $8 billion GE business that makes the company's last consumer brands, including dishwashers, refrigerators and light bulbs.

He took over the post in January, as the company increasingly shifts its focus to industrial products such as locomotives and jet engines.

Immelt, who engineered the strategic shift, plowed $1 billion into new appliance offerings and factories in the United States, in a bid to make such products stand out and reap higher profits against competitors from Korea's Samsung Electronics to China's Haier Electronics.

Blankenship's performance may well determine if GE stays in consumer brands or completes its evolution away from the products consumers know best.

"We said we could do it if we got that investment, and now we're at the point in this experiment where we have to be able to do what we say," Blankenship, 46, said in his first interview since taking over his new post. "We're making the last products with the GE monogram on them, and we want to make sure we do that justice."

Blankenship succeeded Charlene Begley, No. 29 last year on Fortune magazine's list of the most powerful women in business, when she took a medical leave. The appointment is intended to be permanent, GE said.

His success requires navigating a shift away from the incandescent light bulb, one of founder Thomas Edison's most recognizable innovations, and tepid demand for refrigerators and washing machines as the U.S. housing market recovers.

Faced with competitors that captured larger shares of the market for light-emitting-diode bulbs, GE went big, overhauling entire lighting systems at corporate offices for Marriott International and MetLife. In appliances, the company introduced a finish designed not to clash with stainless steel or other colors to tempt buyers who want one new item, not a whole new kitchen.

GE is starting to see results. Operating income at the division Blankenship inherits grew faster than at any other unit in the first quarter, surging 39 percent to $79 million.

That still represents just 2.2 percent of the Fairfield, Conn., company's $3.53 billion of net income in the period. What's more, its profit margin of 4 percent is GE's second-thinnest, trailing only the new and rapidly growing energy management division.

Not all the benefits GE receives from the unit accrue to the bottom line, though, said Christian Mayes, an Edward Jones & Co. analyst in St. Louis who has a hold rating on the shares. Only about 58 percent of the company's stock is held by institutional investors, the seventh-lowest among companies in the Standard & Poor's 500, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Appliances and light bulbs help connect GE to the rest of its owners, Mayes said.

"That's how a lot of people know the company, from their refrigerator or dishwasher, and they trust it," Mayes said in a telephone interview. "A lot of the relevance of this business is that it's so recognizable to retail investors."

To lead the business, Blankenship wanted a better understanding of its products. Not long after taking over the appliances unit in 2012, he hauled a dishwasher into his Louisville, Ky., home and took it apart.

Since then, he's spent a shift every month or so on the factory floor, helping to assemble refrigerators and water heaters.

"I'm a product guy from way back and I want to know what we're trying to make and sell," Blankenship said.

The new Home & Business Solutions CEO, who has a doctorate in materials engineering from the University of Virginia, began his GE career in 1992 at the company's research and development operation before moving to the energy and aviation divisions.

BMW M5 Facelift

20. května 2013 v 8:55 solar power systems
Albert Biermann, Head of Engineering at M, and Thomas Schemera, Marketing Director for BMW M, introduced visual and power upgrades to the popular sporty sedan. Along with styling updates, the M folks also debuted the Competition Package with its 575 horsepower.

BMW M engineers have applied extensive modifications to the chassis set-up as well. Along with the suspension and damping systems, the stabilizer bars have also been more tautly tuned. In the BMW M5 this adjustment has resulted in a lowering of the car by around 10 millimeters. The potential inherent in the rear axle design - based on the race-derived principle of the rear axle subframe being bolted to the body - and the even more precisely calculated elastokinematics for the front axle are exploited to the full in the models featuring the Competition Package, with the aim of enhancing driving precision.

The Competition Package was specifically devised to boost the handling properties of the BMW M5 and it costs a bit over 9,000 euros in Germany. In addition, the newly developed M carbon ceramic brakes have been available as an option since March 2013.

With the Competition Package, the M Dynamic mode of the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system is even more acutely geared to sporty handling characteristics. The package additionally includes exclusively designed 20-inch M light-alloy wheels along with a sport exhaust system featuring customary M twin tailpipes in black chrome that lend an unmistakable sporty note to both the look and the sound of the car.

The M "kidney grille", which now features the model designation and whose slats cite the double-spoke design of the M light alloys. An option of Adaptive LED Headlights is now offered. A standard feature on the BMW M5 are the taillights with strikingly thin LED light strips that generate a high contrast and add to the unmistakable night-time look.

The interior of the sedan has also gained an increase in volume of the storage compartment under the armrest in the centre console area. The Control Display of the standard-fitted iDrive operating system now features chrome trim on the sides. For the first time, an optional Touch Controller is available with a touch-sensitive surface allowing, for example, characters to be entered when programming a destination for the navigation system.

As of July, BMW Individual will be offering a range of new exterior colours for the BMW M5 (Pure Metal Silver, Pyrite Brown metallic, Frozen Blue metallic and further BMW Individual matt paintwork finishes), as well as exclusive leather shades (Cashmere Beige and Nutmeg).

The model introduced at the M Festival was painted in the Frozen Blue metallic color. In person the M5 sedan is a stunner and BMW M says that it was really hard to improve an already competitive and dominant M5. The new headlights are quickly becoming a darling of BMW fans, as the M6 Coupe discovered itself, and the iDrive Touch inside takes BMW into the world of tactile devices and seamless touch controls.

The new Frozen Blue color reminds us of ALPINA paint jobs. The matte metallic is a nice inclusion in the BMW Individual catalog, but it remains to be seen if it will be available for the Competition Package only.

Do 'environmentally friendly' LED lights cause BLINDNESS?

15. května 2013 v 9:17 solar power systems
A study has discovered that exposure to LED lights can cause irreparable harm to the retina of the human eye.

LED lights have been touted as a super-efficient alternative to traditional bulbs because they use up to 85 per cent less energy and each bulb can last up to 10 years.

In April, Philips, the world's biggest lighting maker, reported a 38 per cent jump in LED light sales from last year.

They are already widely used in mobile phones, televisions, computer screens and can also be fitted as a replacement for traditional lighting in the home.

LEDs are much more expensive that traditional bulbs - costing around 25 for an equivalent 100w compared to around 1 for an incandescent bulb - although manufacturers claim that consumers make their money back because the use such little energy.

The government announced it was phasing out incandescent bulbs in 2007 after an EU directive banned their use. The 100w bulb was the first to go in 2009 and lower wattage bulbs continue to be phased out gradually.

The ban caused public outrage as customers were forced to spend large sums of money on lighting that not only gave an unpleasantly 'cold' light but also caused some people to report symptoms of itchy skin and headaches.

The government's Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, which was brought in to help cut UK carbon emissions, is also pushing the use of LED lighting by offering businesses added tax relief if they use LED and other low-energy bulbs.

Dr. Celia Sanchez-Ramos, of Complutense University in Madrid and who led the study, explained that light from LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, comes from the short-wave, high-energy blue and violet end of the visible light spectrum.

'Eyes are not designed to look directly at light - they are designed to see with light,' Sanchez-Ramos said.

Her comments are partly based on her 2012 study that was published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.

The study found that LED radiation caused significant damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.

Sanchez-Ramos added that modern humans have their eyes open for roughly 6,000 hours a year, and are exposed to artificial light for the majority of that time.

Some experts have called for the LED lights to have built-in filters to cut out the blue glare.

This is not the first time energy-saving lights have come under scrutiny for safety reasons. Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, have been criticized for the high levels of mercury they contain as well as the UV radiation they can emit.

LED lights have also been blamed for the changing hues of masterpieces in art galleries.

A study carried out by the University of Antwerp earlier this year found that LED lights were bleaching the paint on works by Van Gogh and Cezanne.

Judging by the only available photo, they look pretty cool, but until we see them fitted on a car, we can't really be certain of anything. Since they are installed in the fog light housings (replacing them) it will be interesting to see how they cope with actual fog.

The LED light is not very useful on times of great dampening and we're not really sure if the new part comes with integrated yellow bulbs that are helpful on adverse weather conditions.

For the moment we're not sure if these new lights will disable the fog lights permanently. According to a forum member, his BMW contact says that you will lose the fog light effect since the LED device is brighter. That means that there is a yellow bulb inside the projector but it will be useless once the corona lights are on.

What's responsible for the improvements?

15. května 2013 v 9:15 solar photovoltaic system
Traditionally LEDs were viewed as an excellent lighting alternative offering significant energy savings, albeit with inferior visual performance compared to some lighting options.

Over the past few years, the energy savings LEDs provide have continued to grow at an impressive pace. In fact today's LEDs are more than twice as efficient as LEDs from just five years ago, offering 25-30% energy savings compared to CCFLs and up to 80% savings compared to incandescent bulbs. These eye-catching energy savings have been accompanied by significant space savings and enhanced visual performance.

Key developments in LED manufacturing, specifically enhanced equipment, improved processes and superior materials, have allowed the latest generation of LEDs to provide a powerful combination of excellent light output, visual performance and space savings. Let's look at each development closer.

Over the past 10 years, equipment used to manufacture LED dies has undergone dramatic improvements. LED manufacturers have shifted from class 10,000 clean room to highly sophisticated class 1,000 clean rooms for all production processes. This change ensures that no particles bigger than .5um per cubic foot are allowed inside the room as opposed to a class 10,000 clean room, where up to 70 such particles would enter the same space. A Laminar Flow Clean Room consistently pushes airflow from top to bottom from an air purified HEPA filtered machine, refreshing the air inside and further preventing contamination.

Vapor Phase Epitaxy has also helped advance LED performance. Metalorganic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD) machines are no used to create die substrates. The multi-reactors systems that have replaced them provide up to 20% superior wavelength uniformity, while generating more consistent color performance and cost savings.

Due in large part to this enhanced equipment, the structural efficiency of LEDs has improved from 50 to 70% ten years ago to over 90% today. The enhanced structural efficiency in turn creates superior visual performance.

Two major process improvements have led to a significant increase in visual performance particularly for white LEDs. Five years ago, LEDs could only achieve a color-rendering index (CRI) of 50 to 60. In particular, there were issues with producing warm white light. Improvements in manufacturing processes and in binning have dramatically enhanced visual performance.

To create visually appealing warm white light, several steps were added to the manufacturing process. A red die is placed in the same package as the blue die, which is then coated with a highly engineered phosphor coating, resulting in significantly better visual performance. Tweaking the thickness and consistency of the phosphor coating delivers specific gradients of white.

A second significant process improvement was the shift from sapphire substrate to thin-film based die production. Rather than growing dies in a crystal format, they are now made via a thin film process, which can be controlled on a molecular level, greatly enhancing wavelength uniformity and thus visual performance.

Enhanced equipment, improved processes and superior materials have led to a higher volume of consistently high-quality solar light for manufacturer use. These quality chips provide key performance benefits including even greater energy savings, space savings and superior visual performance all at a lower cost than was previously possible.

New England’s Largest LED Lighting

7. května 2013 v 7:45 solar power systems
Mack Technologies has substantially reduced energy consumption in its Westford, Massachusetts manufacturing facility with a comprehensive LED lighting retrofit. This project has the distinction of being the largest retrofit deployment of LED lighting in any manufacturing space in New England.

Mack Technologies provides complex electronic manufacturing services including printed circuit board assembly, electromechanical assembly, and complete system integration. The company provides lifecycle management and manufacturing solutions for original equipment manufacturers in the defense and aerospace, medical device, industrial control, energy, and communications and networking industries. Headquartered in Westford, Massachusetts, it also operates facilities in Melbourne, Florida and Juárez, México.

The project will help Mack Technologies meet new sustainability goals, cut costs and significantly improve the working conditions of its employees. The company will save more than $50,000 in annual lighting costs and will receive over $130,000 through a combination of state and federal tax credits, and utility incentives provided by National Grid. The LED lighting project provides a two year payback for all invested capital.

"Concerns about initial cost, relative youth of the industry, and LED illumination characteristics made some manufacturers cautious about conversion," said Paul Maher, facilities manager, Mack Technologies. "Our decision to move forward was based on a careful assessment of LED lighting quality and cost, as well as our desire to be a leader in corporate social responsibility."

Energy conservation engineering and project development services company Bluestone Energy Services, LLC, replaced 2,600 T-8 fluorescent bulbs with high efficiency Lithonia LED fixtures in Mack's manufacturing space, as well as several hundred older bulbs with high-performance T-8 bulbs in Mack's offices.

Savings from the new lighting system was further increased by more than 50 percent by using state-of-the-art wireless controls on a standards-based, ZigBee Certified ControlScope platform provided by Daintree Networks. This system gives Mack Technologies the ability to expand their facility's energy efficient controls wirelessly, for decades to come.

"We're pleased to help Mack Technologies convert to LED technology and reach their environmental, energy and quality goals," said Ryan Blair, president, Bluestone Energy. "Through our Lighting Division, Mack Technologies has decreased its energy lighting costs by 40%, met strict industry lighting standards, and improved both manufacturing-space illumination and facilities' appearance - all while earning payback on its financial investments within two years."

Over the next year, Mack and Bluestone plan to collaborate on more sustainability projects, continuing Mack's goal of reducing its energy consumption and achieving its environmental sustainability goals.

Upland family get free solar panels through new partnership

3. května 2013 v 5:59 street light
The Zavala family in Upland recently benefitted from a new partnership between GRID Alternatives and Sullivan Solar Power.
The family received a solar electric system through the partnership which will provide low-income households in San Bernardino and Riverside counties with free solar installations.
"Today marks the establishment of a yearlong partnership with GRID Alternatives," said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, in a news release. "Inland Empire homeowners that need solar energy the most will benefit."
Sullivan Solar Power has offices in Riverside, Irvine, San Diego and San Francisco.
Michael Zavala, a disabled retiree who has lived in the city for 30 years and his family received a 15-panel rooftop solar array at no cost through the partnership, which was officially announced at the Zavala residence Thursday.
"We were presented with the opportunity," Zavala said in a news release from Sullivan Solar Power. "I had never looked into solar because I never thought about being able to afford it."
The 3,300-watt solar power installation will save the Zavalas $30,930 over the next 30 years. The family will be utilizing the energy bill savings to catch up on other bills such as gas and water, and to do projects around the house, according to the news release.
For each residential property that goes solar with Sullivan Solar Power over the next year, Sullivan Solar Power will donate one locally manufactured solar panel to GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that brings solar power and solar job training into underserved communities, according to a news release from Sullivan Solar Power.
The company and non-profit except to provide the free solar power installations to 20 households.
"We are thrilled to partner with Sullivan Solar Power to help provide solar installations to low income homeowners throughout the Inland Empire," said Bambi Tran, Regional Director of GRID Alternatives Inland Empire, in a news release. "As a result of this new partnership, dozens of income-qualified families in the Inland Empire will be able to get solar panels on their homes - at no cost to them - and save hundreds if not thousands on their electricity bills each year."
Upland Councilman Gino Filippi attended the installation and announcement event Thursday.
"As we celebrate this new partnership, our city is excited by the vision that Sullivan Solar Power and GRID Alternatives share, a vision where public, private and non-profit entities can come together in partnership to create a sustainable future," Filippi said in a news release. "We know that the
Sullivan Solar Power donations and GRID Alternatives' efforts will result in a brighter future for the City of Upland and the entire Inland Empire."
The partnership will extend beyond the Inland Empire; Sullivan Solar Power will be donating panels to other GRID Alternatives offices for projects in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego as well.

OLED vs LED Lighting

2. května 2013 v 5:10 solar photovoltaic system
The lighting industry is a large, global and yet fragmented market place. The fragmentation is driven both by technology differentiation and customer need diversity. The technologies vying for market share include incandescent lamp, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), halogen lamp, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and, most recently, organic light emitting diodes (OLED). The target markets are also very diverse, each service different needs and demanding different price points. These markets include residential, architectural, hospitality, shop, industrial, office, and outdoor.

OLED and LED lighting are both solid-state technologies and offer overlapping value propositions per market segment. They will therefore compete directly in many instances. LED lighting has come a long way and offers a better performance than OLEDs, and that at a lower cost. OLED lighting will therefore only gain market success if it clearly defines its unique selling points and carves out initial market niches.

This report is divided into two part: (a) technology and (b) market assessment. The first offers a comprehensive yet detailed overview of both LED and OLED lighting, going through fabrication processes, material compositions, technology roadmaps, and key players. The device attributes of each technology are also critically assessed, examining parameters such as colour warmth and controllability, flexibility, efficiency, surface emission, lifetime, wafer size, and luminaire design.

The second section offers a blunt market assessment. Detailed cost projection roadmaps are developed, factoring in estimated cost evolution of the integrated substrates, encapsulation layers and materials. Changes in system configuration and material composition required to enable the cost roadmaps are outlined. We also factor in production costs including capital and labour.

The value proposition of OLEDs for all market segments is critically analysed. For each assessment, IDTechEx Research examines parameters such as light quality, form factor, technology mix diversity, price sensitivity, light controllability, lifetime and light intensity. The report also rigorously compares the performance of OLED and LED devices using the above parameters.

IDTechEx Research also develops detailed market forecasts. Here, we estimate the market share of OLEDs per lighting market segment, calculate the total lighting area per sector, estimate the lumen output per segment, and forecast the equivalent number of units sold per sector. Combining all our analysis, we forecast the monetary value of the market at module level per market segment.

A technology solutions company, announced it has expanded its light-emitting diode (LED) bulb product portfolio to include both PAR30 and BR30 bulbs. Like the previously introduced Rambus A19 bulb, the two new products are built on the company's MicroLens optical technology, provide energy efficiency and broad dimmer compatibility and are designed to provide effective thermal management.

The new Rambus PAR30 (65-watt equivalent) and BR30 (75-watt equivalent) LED bulbs are designed to address the energy efficiency, reduced glare and lighting experience needs of consumers, property managers, retailers, lighting designers and specifiers across a wide range of indoor and outdoor lighting applications. Both the Rambus PAR30 and BR30 LED bulbs exceed the lumen output specified by Energy Star. In addition, the micro-electronics improve dimmability. The full portfolio of Rambus LED bulbs are currently available for commercial orders, with shipments expected to start by the third quarter of this year.