Dissertation Topic – LED technology, Awareness of scientific innovation

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Sam Allcock

LED technology begins to assert itself on the market, and its products will soon become mass consumption.

Awareness of scientific innovation was finally confirmed with the awarding of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics to three Japanese scientists, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura, for their invention of blue light LEDs (light-emitting diode), which made it possible to create low energy consumption lighting systems.

A little highlighted aspect of LED technology is undoubtedly its high eco-compatibility compared to other technologies that have non-negligible environmental costs. With these characteristics, LEDs can make a profound contribution to reducing electricity consumption and polluting emissions.


1. LEDs in UK and abroad


At present, we can define the diffusion of LED technology in the start-up phase. This is for a number of reasons:

Technology enhancement standards still too young and not very useful.

Lack of a real UK and European industry of massive production of lamps. Today 90% of the output is of Chinese origin.

Vital interests in the large traditional lighting lobbies to slow down the spread of new technologies.

However, the forecasts for technology growth are encouraging. Everything will depend on the changes in the conditions described, in particular on the birth of a European LED lighting industry.

There are many questions: will UK and Europe be able to create their own production industry, perhaps based on high process innovation? Do we have sufficient know-how in Europe to combat the excessive power of the Chinese markets, thanks to a low cost of labor?


2. Role and potential within the green economy


LED technology can play an essential role in the energy and environmental scenario. Suffice it to consider that lighting accounts for about 20% of the European electricity balance. If we only wanted to estimate a possible saving compared to traditional CFL lamps (Low consumption), we can evaluate a reduction in the electricity bill of 10%. In numerical terms, this figure is equivalent, for UK, to 4 Terawatts, for Europe to 40 Tw.

LED technology also has a unique feature: its investment pays for itself in a short time (from 3 to 5 years), while the useful life of the product is 15 years. This means that an investment in this sector would have profitability of over 70% of the invested capital. This figure should induce European governments to invest much more, without necessarily providing public incentives, but only by making financial resources available to the market in the form of “self-financed” onerous loans. The United States has created approximately 1 million jobs in the green economy sector and, in particular, in the energy efficiency sector, placing on the market over 20 billion dollars in loans at a rate of 4 – 5%.

An incentive policy in this sense could create new jobs (about 200 thousand places per year ), give a substantial boost to the objectives of reducing polluting emissions, alleviate the national energy bill and, indirectly, carry out a spending review of about 1 billion per year only for the Public Administration.


3. How LEDs work


LED technology has an effortless operation. The emission of the luminous flux occurs through the feeding of a semiconductor filament, suitably treated, with a shallow current (on average 350 mA) and at a voltage of 2 – 3.5 volts. Unlike other light sources, it does not produce gas or other pollutants. The new generation LEDs, if well-powered, can have a useful life of over 100,000 hours.


What is an LED?


When a shallow current passes, the LED is an electronic component that emits light without infrared and ultraviolet, turning on immediately.

LED technology, an acronym for Light-Emitting Diodes, represents the evolution of solid-state lighting, with which the generation of light is obtained using semiconductors rather than using a filament or a gas. LED lighting is more energy-efficient, has a much longer lifespan, and is more sustainable. Furthermore, it enables innovative and creative use solutions, which integrate light in our homes, cars, shops, and cities.


Energy saving


Thanks to the high intensity of the LED bulbs, it is also possible to replace fluorescent lamps (compact or neon) with them, consuming, on average, 50% less.

For example, it is possible to replace a standard 40W neon lamp (of the T8 type with a diameter of 26 mm and 120 cm in length) with an “LED tube” (made up of almost 300 small LEDs), which consumes no more than 17W.

In this case, assuming a cost of electricity of 0.22 € / kWh and average use of 6 hours per day, the annual consumption with the two different lamps would be, respectively, 87.6 kWh and 37.2 kWh. Therefore, the yearly savings in using the LED light instead of the fluorescent neon one would be 50.4 kWh, which means € 12.60 less.




LEDs retain more than 80% of their initial luminous flux even after 50,000 hours of operation, according to EN50107 standards. The complete loss of brightness is estimated at 100,000 hours.

Comparing the duration of the LEDs compared to traditional lamps, and assuming an average operation of 6 hours a day, we note that:

the average life of a filament bulb is about 1000/1500 hours (250 days)

the average life of a discharge lamp is approximately 4,000 hours (666 days)

the average life of a fluorescent light is 6,000 hours (1,000 days)

the average life of a led lamp is 50,000 hours (8,333 days)


Luminous efficiency


The luminous efficiency of a light source is the ratio of the luminous flux to the current consumed. The measure of efficiency is expressed in lumen/watt. The luminous flux is defined according to the subjective perception of the average human eye and corresponds to a particular curve within the spectrum of visible light. A light bulb also emits radiation outside the visible band, generally in the infrared and ultraviolet range, which, however, does not contribute to the sensation of brightness.


4. All the potential of LED technology




LED technology gives life to a totally recyclable product, like all electric ones. It does not require special forms of disposal. Unlike other types of lamps (sodium, mercury, fluorescent), moreover, LEDs do not contain heavily polluting substances .

An aspect of no small importance is also the very long frequency of replacement, given its long life. In short, disposal would not only have a very low environmental impact, but also much rarer: the replacement frequency of LEDs is in fact 10 times lower than common fluorescent lamps.


Economic and social


Reducing electricity costs is certainly possible with the use of LED technology. It can contribute to improving a family economic balance, but also that of a company or a Public Administration. The lighting service is a primary service; without which it is difficult to carry out one’s activities. Saving money on an indispensable service is a double advantage.


Resistors, lamps and diodes

Dissertation topic by Research Prospect

LED Lighting


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