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Lumileds And Cree Win $4.1 Million In US DOE Grants

The US Department of Energy has invested in five companies to drive cost-competitive next generation efficient LED lighting
Building on his strong focus on energy efficiency in his first few days in office, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced five manufacturing research and development projects to support energy efficient lighting products.

The projects will focus on reducing manufacturing costs, while continuing to improve the quality and performance of LEDs and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Today’s LED lighting is six or seven times more efficient than conventional lighting and can last up to 25 times longer. The Energy Department’s $10 million investment is matched dollar for dollar by private sector funding.

“This partnership with industry to produce affordable, efficient lighting will save consumers money and create American jobs," says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “It’s another example of how energy efficiency is a win-win proposition for our economy."

According to a new report by the Energy Department, LED lamps and fixtures installed in the United States have increased 10-fold over the last 2 years - from 4.5 million units in 2010 to 49 million units in 2012. These installations, which include common indoor and outdoor applications such as recessed lighting and streetlights, are expected to save about $675 million in annual energy costs.

During the same period, the cost of an LED replacement bulb has fallen by about 54 percent. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs and reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent. By 2030, LED lighting is projected to represent about 75 percent of all lighting sales, saving enough energy to power approximately 26 million U.S. households.

Still, while life-cycle costs are attractive, the initial price of LED and OLED lighting is currently higher than the price of traditional lighting. These projects will help achieve significant cost reductions in manufacturing equipment and processes, while improving lighting quality and performance:

In one of the projects, Cree will receive a $2.3 million DOE investment is to develop a modular design for LED lights that can link together multiple units to fit larger areas. The design will also use less raw material, reducing manufacturing costs while ensuring high lighting quality and efficiency. Cree’s approach will design and manufacture the different components of an LED fixture -- including electrical, mechanical and optical systems – as one, seamless product, helping to further reduce assembly costs and ensure strong performance.

In the second project, Eaton Corporation will be awarded a $2.4 million grant. The Eaton project will develop an innovative manufacturing process that streamlines the LED fixture design and removes unnecessary materials and parts. With this approach, the LED chip can sit directly on the heatsink, improving heat transfer within the design and increasing LED efficiency.

Philips Lumileds will receive $1.8 million. Most LEDs are grown on a sapphire substrate. Through this project, Lumileds will develop an alternative to the standard flip-chip device that grows an LED face-down on the sapphire substrate. Before light can shine through, this substrate must be carefully etched off the device. The Lumileds device will treat the sapphire substrate so that removing the substrate is not necessary - reducing manufacturing costs without compromising lighting quality.

The project will also use standard grade glass, lowering costs while maintaining performance. Commercially-available and low-cost integrated substrates will help build a reliable, high-quality supply chain for this emerging industry.

This announcement represents the fourth round of Energy Department investments in solid-state lighting manufacturing projects since 2010 and supports broader Department efforts to accelerate domestic manufacturing and technical leadership in energy efficient technologies, helping to create jobs, boost exports and strengthen America’s role as a global leader in the clean energy race.

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