Company Claims ESLs to be the Future of Light Bulbs (w/ Video)

Vu1's conceptual design for its R-30 bulb. Credit: Vu1.

( -- While compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are currently the primary alternative to incandescent light bulbs, a company from Seattle predicts that its own novel light bulbs will eventually replace CFLs and LEDs. Vu1 ("view one") Corporation has been working on its electron stimulated luminescence (ESL) bulbs, and has recently released a demo video (below).

ESL technology works by firing electrons at phosphor, which then glows. As Vu1 explains, the technology is similar to that used in cathode ray tubes and TVs. However, the bulbs have several improvements, such as in uniform electron distribution, energy efficiency, phosphor performance and manufacturing costs. "CRT and TV technology is based on delivering an electron 'beam' and then turning pixels on and off very quickly," the company explains on its website. "ESL technology is based on uniformly delivering a 'spray' of electrons that illuminate a large surface very energy efficiently over a long lifetime."

With ESLs, Vu1 hopes to overcome some of the challenges faced by CFLs and LEDs, the two lighting technologies considered to have the most potential in the post-incandescent era. As the company explains, CFLs' biggest problem is that they contain about 5 milligrams of mercury. If not recycled properly - or if they're accidentally broken - CFLs release mercury into the air or groundwater. In addition, some people find the CFLs' cooler colors less pleasing than the warmer tones of incandescent bulbs.

On the other hand, LEDs don't contain hazardous materials like mercury, and can last for up to 50,000 hours. However, their heat dissipation requirements make them more expensive than other bulbs, with a projected retail price of about $40 each.

In contrast, ESLs don't contain hazardous substances and should cost about $20, or the equivalent of a dimmable CFL reflector bulb, according to Vu1. Similar to CFLs, ESLs use 65% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last for up to 6,000 hours, or about four times the lifespan of incandescents. Other advantages of ESLs include a warm color temperature similar to incandescent light, as well as the ability to be turned on instantly and be fully dimmable.

Vu1 plans to begin manufacturing ESLs by the end of the year, and hopes to market the bulb starting in mid-2010. Initially, the company will launch reflector-shaped bulbs, which are used in recessed lighting. Later they hope to expand into other bulb forms such as standard A bulbs and tubes.

More information:

via: CNet Crave

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Sep 16, 2009
So LEDs are not appealing why?

They cost twice as much but last 8 times as long as these ESLs. And since LED technology has so many other applications, the price will continue to drop at a faster pace compared to ESLs.

Thanks for the advertisement article, but no thanks.

Sep 16, 2009
Agreed, Joe.

Why is heat such a problem for LEDs? How can they be so efficient but generate so much "waste heat"?

Sep 16, 2009
We need to start deciding on a light-bulb standard, if I keep changing my lightbulbs with the new kid on the market I'll end up being broke.

LED's seem like the best tech at the moment though, and even at 40$ for a 60W equiv I would still invest in equipping my home with these once I settle down, but I wouldn't invest in them while I am still renting.

The EU mandates the death of incandescent lightbulbs but sadly without a proper recycling infrastructure implemented in member countries, because even though they have longer lifespans, they are considerably more hazardous to dispose of and people WILL be just throwing them in the garbage bin.

It remains to be seen what the future of the LED lightbulbs will be. At 50000hrs MTBF, even at a daily use of 10-12hrs which is likely above average, you'd still get about 10 years of usage, so it'd pose a problem business-wise for the manufacturers, once they satisfy the market the business is pretty much dead for the next few years

Sep 16, 2009
Mercury is a very small issue. There's only a tiny bit in a CFL and that can be recovered during recycling.

(We have recycling in the US. If you're in Europe, check your Ikea store.)

ESLs apparently give about 40 lumins per watt. CFLs produce about 60.

You're going to have to purchase more electricity if you use ESLs and you're going to have to pay more for the bulbs.

Doesn't make sense to me unless you're someone who breaks a lot of light bulbs.

Sep 16, 2009
Interesting initiative. Remains to be seen who will have the price competitive alternative when ESL comes to market. The article quotes dimmable CFL's at $20 (US I assume)... a quick trip to Home Depot shows dimmable CFLs for $14... so this article is already stretching the facts.

Sep 16, 2009
you'd still get about 10 years of usage, so it'd pose a problem business-wise for the manufacturers, once they satisfy the market the business is pretty much dead for the next few years

Not quite.
read on market expansion strategies.
for example, just like the cellphone industry, the market is far from saturation despite the fact that an average cellphone should last for 5 years.
a new product has the ability to create its own market.
[sorry. not the proper forum but i guess it's related]

Sep 16, 2009
What chemicals will be present in the phosphors?
What voltage will be necessary to accelerate the electrons?

Sep 16, 2009
Because I want little fragile pods of hazmat hanging out of every ceiling.

OLED paneling will be the future.

Sep 17, 2009
Although I love LEDs, the problem is that they are not as efficient at high currents as they are at low currents (its called droop). And you want to crank it up beyond the 1 watt, if it is to be used for general lighting. See this months IEEE spectrum issue, http://www.spectr...secret/1

Sep 17, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 17, 2009
The whole article is not very accurate, some arguments are even nonsens, it is a real advertisement.
Well designed LED systems have good efficiency (>50 lm/W) and excellent color quality (Ra >90) with CCT about 2700-3500K.
Luminous flux is limited depending on the bulb size, that is correct, but will be improved continousely.
The Mercury in CFL lamps is no real problem as long you don't break the bulb. Recyceling is a standard (in most western countries).
GOOD JOB from the marketing department

Sep 17, 2009
What do they mean by heat dissipation problems for LED lights? LEDs don't generate hardly any heat at all so I assume theyd be talking about the electronics, but that can't possibly be that bad. All it takes for one LED is two wires and a resistor.

Sep 17, 2009
Sounds a lot like a crookes tube. (http://en.wikiped...es_tube)
Lots of experts and no emission spectrum...

Does it come with leaded glass or soft x-rays?

Sep 17, 2009
The heat dissipation problems for LED is that LED's do better when cold. So while they are 3-4 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs they still put out more heat than light. To get enough light for a room you have to use metal heat sinks to dissipate the heat or else your LED will get dimmer as it warms up. And may die quicker than if you kept it cool.

Sep 17, 2009
We at Vu1 have read through many of the posted comments and would like to suggest that anyone interested in getting the lastest facts on ESL, the technology, the features, the performance, go to the Vu1 Blog where I have posted a Q & A.

The blog is at

T. Ron Davis
Chief Marketing Officer
Vu1 Corporation

Sep 18, 2009
OLED lighting is also a technology that is showing promise. Though it would be for a different market application, that of area lighting. LED, ESL, CFL are all point sources, where OLED is a Panel or area source. Costs are still quite high, but as manufacturing technologies improve it will make a dent in costs.

And for the ESL, That was my question it doesn't have Hg, but does it have Lead--or x-rays? I didn't see this answered on the marketing video at Vu1.

Sep 20, 2009
Like a lot of marketing literature, it is characteristically thin on technical details.
It might have a niche in places where the tungsten bulb has been banned, and among the Fox news crowd
(note the fear based appellation "mercury bulbs" or "toxic bulbs").
I love light bulbs. I'll buy at least one of these if they come to market, just out of curiosity, but
it cannot compete, dollar for lumen, with mercury based fluorescence.

Sep 21, 2009
A lot of people seem surprised that LEDs generate heat... and a lot of it. They are efficient compared to incandescent lights but at this stage they are roughly equivalent to a CFL as far as overall efficiency is concerned. The problem is an individual LED die is small so the heat is concentrated and difficult to get rid of.

Sep 21, 2009
It's like placing a CRT above my head!

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