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Researchers Use Light As Chemical Reaction Input To Convert Methane to Methanol

Scientists have developed an efficient new way to convert methane into methanol at room temperature. The technique could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a much cleaner way to make green fuels.

Scientists have developed an efficient new way to convert methane into methanol at room temperature. The technique could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a much cleaner way to make green fuels.

An interesting question is whether this type of chemical process could create a new category of lighting for industrial inputs. This would not be about visually lighting a chemical plant. It would be an industrial input, analogous to horticultural grow lights being an input to commercial agricultural facilities. This could have all kinds of implications for customized spectral tuning, durability requirements, etc.

The conversion of methane to methanol at room temperature is especially important because methane is 34 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 is, even though humans emit much more CO2. Industrial waste methane is typically burned in flares, which creates CO2 emissions.

For the new study, researchers at the University of Manchester and Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a new technique using a metal-organic framework (MOF) as a catalyst. These structures are extremely porous, and in this case, those pores contain a variety of components that each play a role in the catalytic process.

Exposing the MOF to sunlight triggers a chemical reaction that converts the gaseous methane into liquid methanol, which can then be easily extracted from the water.

In this case, the components held in the MOF absorb the light and generate electrons, which are then passed on to the oxygen and methane flowing through, causing them to combine to form methanol.

You can read the full article here.

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Will Electric Vehicle Charging Change The Energy Efficiency Game?

Disruptive lighting technology consultant Peter Brown, recently wrote an interesting article in US Lighting Trends, about the potential of EV chargers to change the energy efficient buildings industry.

Disruptive lighting technology consultant Peter Brown, recently wrote an interesting article in US Lighting Trends, about the potential of EV chargers to change the energy efficient buildings industry. He shares a real-world scenario of a commercial building wanting to install 50 EV chargers in the parking lot or garage, but the electricity demand would require roughly $1 million dollars of additional electricity supply infrastructure.

The article explains that this type of scenario could be a game changer for deep energy efficiency building retrofits. Instead of paying the $1 Million for additional electricity supply, the building owner could invest a fraction of that amount in deep building energy efficiency retrofits to reduce electricity demand in the building. The ROI for the retrofits then goes beyond the energy saving ROI, to include the very large avoided costs for new supply-side infrastructure.

You can read the full article here.

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DOE Estimates Linear Fluorescent Lamp Shipments Dropped 85% Between 2015 & 2022, Heading For 98% Drop By 2026

On May 31st, 2022, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Notice of Proposed Determination that it does not intend to amend efficiency standards for General Service Fluorescent Lamps (GSFL). On July 11th, 2022, DOE held a webinar presenting its rationale.

On May 31st, 2022, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Notice of Proposed Determination that it does not intend to amend efficiency standards for General Service Fluorescent Lamps (GSFL). On July 11th, 2022, DOE held a webinar presenting its rationale.

Within the DOE presentation was the slide above that shows GSFL (linear fluorescent lamps) shipments in the US declined 85% between 2015 and 2022, from roughly 400 million lamps in 2015, down to about 60 million this year. This estimate is based on NEMA Lamp Sales Indices (2015-2020). DOE further projects GSFL shipments to decline to roughly 2% of 2015’s number by 2026 (400 million lamps in 2015 down to less than 10 million lamps in 2026).

The complete DOE webinar slide presentation can be downloaded here.

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Product Monday: The Esterno Cristallo Collection Beautifies With Outdoor Crystal & LED Wall Sconces

Allegri Crystal by Kalco Lighting has introduced its Esterno Cristallo Collection of outdoor wall sconces for commercial and residential applications. The collection combines beautiful Firenze crystal with LED technology and features Firenze crystal encased in a matte black frame, crafted from stainless steel, for elegant outdoor aesthetics and long-term performance.

Allegri Crystal by Kalco Lighting has introduced its Esterno Cristallo Collection of outdoor wall sconces for commercial and residential applications. The collection combines beautiful Firenze crystal with LED technology and features Firenze crystal encased in a matte black frame, crafted from stainless steel, for elegant outdoor aesthetics and long-term performance.

Designed for both commercial and residential applications, the Esterno Cristallo contemporary collection includes:

  • Esterno Arpione features clear Firenze crystal spears accentuated by sharp lines to provide an ultramodern look enhancing any elegant outdoor setting.
  • Cilindro Esterno, clear crystal rods form a cylindrical silhouette to create a sleek, contemporary outdoor light. Dimmable high-power LEDs shine from within, highlighting the crystals within a simple matte black frame.
  • Glacier Esterno merges Allegri’s most innovative crystal collection featuring a clear chiseled spear design with state-of-the-art LED technology.
  • Tenuta Esterno features precision-cut square, oval and octagonal shapes in Firenze crystal strands encased in a stainless steel matte black frame.
  • In Lina Esterno, simple silhouettes are wrapped in Firenze crystal strands. They’re lit from within, making the crystals glow, and providing beautiful ambient light.
  • Lucca Esterno features faceted crystal rods gathered together by a jewelry-like band in two  distinctive looks; brushed champagne gold or polished chrome. Light reflects off the crystal center with a soft glow in both directions.

The handcrafted stainless-steel fixtures are specially coated with marine grade, UV-resistant fluorocarbon paint that can withstand the harshest elements. For more information about the Esterno Cristallo collection, visit allegricrysal.com.

 

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Vermont First State To Ban 4’ Fluorescent Tubes, But Probably Not The Last

Vermont is the first state in the U.S. to ban 4′ fluorescent linear lamps.

On May 19, 2022, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed H.500 into law, making Vermont the first state in the US to ban all four-foot linear fluorescent lamps. The bill will go into effect January 1, 2024, complemented by an existing law  to phase out all screw-based compact linear fluorescents beginning February 17, 2023.

Taken together, these two policy actions will remove well over 90% of the fluorescent lighting products from the Vermont market, by January 1, 2024, saving Vermont residents $167 million in reduced utility bills by 2040, and cutting 1,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

Vermont is the first state to ban all 4’ fluorescent tubes, but probably not the last. California has produced a similar bill that is awaiting approval. Learn more about efforts in California here.

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“Ban the Bulb” is Back

My contribution to the June issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR describes two major Department of Energy rulings related to incandescent lamps–one that revises definitions to eliminate previous exemptions, and anohter that interprets the 2007 energy law’s backstop provision, which will eliminate a majority of lamps that previously complied.

In April 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued two final rules regulating general-service incandescent lamps, the subject of my most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. The final rules adopted revised definitions of general-service lamps as well as general-service incandescent lamps while interpreting a backstop energy standard as applying to these incandescent lamps. As a result, more incandescent lamps are covered by energy standards, and incandescent and halogen A-lamps that previously complied appear likely to be eliminated.

There’s a tangled web to unweave here, starting with the 2007 energy law and its impact on consumer choice and a big technological shift in the market, conflict in interpretation between the Trump and Biden Administrations, and resulting effect on future availability of incandescent lamps.

Check it out here.

UPDATE: Since publication, I discovered additional information, which I’m happy to share:

While DOE’s enforcement on manufacture and import culminates January 1, 2023, distributors and retailers have more time, affecting market availability of non-compliant general-service lamps in 2023. For distributors and retailers, DOE stated in its enforcement policy that the department would begin with “warning notices in January 2023, progressing to reduced penalties two months later, and culminating in full enforcement in July 2023,” with possibly even more flexibility for “very small retailers” that contact DOE.

Currently, the industry should be evaluating product lines, supply chains, and inventories to ensure compliance.

Learn more about DOE’s enforcement policy at https://bit.ly/3J40Yqb.

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NAILD & Its Sustainable Lighting Committee Issue Open Letter About Integrated LED Luminaires

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and its sustainable lighting committee recently published an open letter, detailing a list of concerns with integrated LED luminaires and a set of recommendations for the industry.

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and its sustainable lighting committee recently published an open letter, detailing a list of concerns with integrated LED luminaires and a set of recommendations for the industry. NAILD is a trade association for the lighting distributor channel. The letter explains the negative life cycle/waste consequences of integrated LED luminaires, and proposes 5 changes that the industry should adopt:

  1. Re-commitment to legacy form factors, lamp shades, and sockets
  2. Standardize new components before they go to market
  3. Commit to more sustainable materials
  4. Long-term product support
  5. Useful, transparent labeling

While NAILD operates primarily in the commercial lighting market, it is interesting to note that the American Lighting Association (ALA – operates in the residential & resimercial markets) published a white paper, last year, detailing the design trade-offs of integrated LED versus socketed luminaires. That white paper also addressed sustainability trade-offs.

A significant difference between the ALA white paper and this NAILD open letter is that NAILD is advocating a complete return to lamped luminaires or fully standardized replaceable light engines, and complete elimination of integrated luminaires with unreplaceable engines. This is a rather extreme position that was never the stance of the ALA Engineering Committee team that wrote the white paper.

As one example, the ALA white paper notes the improved thermal management capabilities of integrated LED luminaires that can lead to significantly longer LED engine lifetimes than comparable lamps typically achieve. This then becomes a trade-off of increased light source waste versus increased luminaire waste. Not as black & white an issue as NAILD portrays it. Additionally, luminaires with minimal housings and easy replacement might be fine to replace every 5-10 years, such as flushmount LED downlights. Eliminating all integrated LED luminaires without easily changeable engines would also create a major obstacle to innovation.

It will be interesting to see if and how the industry responds to this open letter from NAILD. To its credit, NAILD is raising some real problems with some integrated LED luminaires. The full NAILD open letter can be found here. The ALA white paper on integrated LED versus socketed luminaires is available here.

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Innovative Outdoor Lighting Design Nominated For Award

A bat ‘superhighway’ with specially tuned lighting has been nominated for a Build Back Better Award., a London-based awards program.

A bat ‘superhighway’ with specially tuned lighting has been nominated for a Build Back Better Award., a London-based awards program. The streetlights along a stretch of road in Frederiksborgvej, Denmark, have been designed to have a minimal impact on the local bat population while providing the required lux and uniformity levels for Danish road and cycle path standards.

The design practice, Light Bureau, used red light because research shows that it is less disruptive on wildlife while allowing people to find their way and maintaining their dark adaptation, and night vision. The project – dubbed ‘We Share The Night’ – consists of 30 bollards of 1-meter height spaced 30 meters apart to create corridors of complete darkness, allowing for light-shy species to cross.

Where cyclists and pedestrians cross the road, 12 higher poles of 3.5 meters have been placed, creating a change in the environment, helping to improve awareness and increase safety in these specific areas. The light level is 2.5 hemispherical lux and the uniformity is 0.15 in the area where cyclists cross the street.

The Gladsaxe Kommune municipality created an awareness campaign in local media to inform local residents why the project used red light, which is radically different from what people would normally expect from street lighting. The special luminaires were supplied by Danish lighting supplier Focus Lighting AS, a firm with a big commitment to sustainability, with modular design and its own repair and reconditioning workshop.

Designers on the project include Philip JelvardRune Brandt HermannssonHenrik Sode and Allan Nielsen. Photograph by Rune Brandt Hermannsson. Jonas Jørgensen was the project leader for the municipality.

In the coming months, the lighting design will be assessed by judges in the lighting category of the Build Back Better Awards, a London-based award program. The Awards celebrate innovation, creativity, social purpose, and environmental leadership in the built environment, and close to entries on Friday, July 29, 2022.

Check out this podcast for more details.

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Product Monday: Toggled iQ – Networked Lighting Controls With Sophisticated Simplicity

At LightFair (LFI). David met with Dan Hollenkamp, COO of Toggled. Dan provided a product demonstration of their advanced, yet simple, wireless networked lighting control system, Toggled iQ.

While at LightFair (LFI), last month, I enjoyed a product demonstration from Dan Hollenkamp, COO of Toggled. The company is probably best known for its LED tubes (TLEDs) at Home Depot and other retailers. It was very interesting to learn about their advanced, yet simple, wireless networked lighting control system, Toggled iQ.

Here’s what I found interesting about it:

  • It’s based on a proprietary Bluetooth Mesh that allows up to 32,000 nodes on a network. That’s a lot of nodes!
  • They offer a sensor that detects motion, daylight, temperature, and humidity. It updates to the network every 5 minutes, and just two AA batteries can operate it for 10 years. That’s a long battery life and a nice bundle of four sensors in one. Image below.
  • Utilizing edge intelligence, the networked system distributes programming to wall controls, smart lamps, and luminaire controllers. If WiFi goes down in a building, disconnecting the system from the cloud / internet, each device will continue to operate normally, because they have stored their own instructions / programming within each device.
  • Smart TLEDs have light output sensors that alert the user to diminished output. The software can enable cost analysis between TLED replacement or increasing power to the smart lamp.
  • There is a plug load controller that can pair with the occupancy sensor to turn off plug load when a space is vacant.
  • At LFI, the company unveiled its Toggled iQ luminaire controller to give control over individual luminaires, connecting them with the Toggled iQ network lighting control system. The controller provides a dimming and color control interface between existing 0V to 10V dimmable luminaires and the Toggled iQ network lighting control platform. When paired with other Toggled iQ offerings (such as sensors, switches, and the free Toggled iQ app) the controller can enable daylight harvesting, occupancy/vacancy-based control, or schedule-based control, as well as customized lighting scenes, from an individual luminaire within the connected network. Image below.

Toggled’s parent company is Altair, a data analytic & AI platform company. It’s clear that Toggled’s significant move into networked lighting controls enables greater synergies between Toggled and Altair, with each leveraging the strengths of the other. More information about the Toggled iQ system is available here.

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John Arthur Wilson Interview: Better Bricks Wireless Lighting Controls Guide

David recently had the pleasure of interviewing John Arthur Wilson, a lighting control and utility rebate consultant, about his 2021 market research into wireless lighting controls. That research resulted in a learning guide that can be used to support basic education around wireless trends in lighting. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has published that document on their Better Bricks website, available to the public.

I had the pleasure of interviewing John Arthur Wilson, a lighting control and utility rebate consultant, about his 2021 market research into wireless lighting controls. That research resulted in a learning guide that can be used to support basic education around wireless trends in lighting. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has published that document on their Better Bricks website, available to the public, here

Shiller: The wireless control guide that you created for Better Bricks is a great document about wireless lighting controls. It provides a simple explanation of load control devices, the protocols, frequencies, performance, topologies, proprietary versus open, and more. Who was the primary audience for this guide?

Wilson: The guide was purposefully meant to target a broad audience set, and that was largely because it was something that we wanted to be really accessible. We didn’t want it to go overly in-depth in any one area to where you really needed to have a technical background. The idea was that this is something that could be leveraged either in training settings or to educate end users. So, the idea is that this guide is something that any organization across North America could pick up and could incorporate into any sort of workshop they’re doing. For example, if we’re working with electrical contractors or a utility with a strategic energy management program, and they’re working with facilities people or key decision makers. It was meant to be something that they could incorporate into their curriculum and leverage it.

There was a big body of research that informed why the guide was needed in the first place. Over a period of six months, we worked in-depth with over a dozen lighting control specifiers. We had electrical engineers, we had lighting designers, and we had contractors that design, build, and commission. We asked a lot of questions about project specifics to better understand the lighting control specifier and the customer. One of the things that came up repeatedly, was that luminaire level lighting controls (LLLC) has a massive “value engineering” problem, due to their higher costs. If you’re just looking at first costs upfront, people are saying this costs more, but there are so many other benefits. One of the major benefits is the wireless aspect. It streamlines installation. Some lighting specifiers and their clients are concerned about cybersecurity with wireless controls. We ask, is cybersecurity an issue on your jobs? And for most projects, it’s not. There’s a disconnect between how much we talk about cybersecurity as this generic boogeyman and then how much it’s actually an issue. But 80% of the actual cybersecurity risk isn’t wireless devices in the network system. They pose a tiny risk, but it’s nothing compared to the way your gateway is connected to the Internet and how you have established user access and password protection. That’s where the overwhelming majority of cybersecurity risk is.

As soon as you say no to wireless, you’re negating all the other wireless benefits. Wireless was a pinch point that we identified. In working with these specifiers, we realized there is typically an opportunity to educate the end user. We created the wireless guide to be an educational resource that could be part of that conversation when specifiers are talking to decision-makers.

Shiller: The wireless guide was published last year, right?

Wilson: The very end of last year.

Shiller: What’s been the overall response to the guide. Is NEEA happy with the clicks, downloads, and attention that it’s getting?

Wilson: Yes, I think they’re very happy with it. People love that even though it’s ten pages, it’s not dense. We kept it high level including a lot of graphics.

Shiller: After the basic education aspects of the guide, it dives into three major trends with wireless controls:  data resiliency, automatic device reconnection, and latency versus simultaneity. I was wondering if you wanted to talk a little bit to those three trends?

Wilson: Yes, I think of it as properly addressing past problems. They’re not wrong and they’re not imagining it. They’re right. Resiliency was a real issue. It is important to validate that. Wireless has gone from mostly reliable to resilient. There was an issue with devices that would fall offline, or just wouldn’t connect, and that was an issue. The biggest improvement here is the mesh network. You’re no longer reliant on an individual node, so that if something happens to that node, the message isn’t going to get passed. Another problem is that when people hear wireless, they almost always conflate it in their heads with Wi-Fi, which is just one type of wireless, but it’s not really the type that matters in commercial lighting. In fact, Wi-Fi plays a tiny part in commercial lighting networks, overall.

Shiller: What about automatic device reconnection?

Wilson: This one really matters. It was incredibly common and just so unbelievably frustrating when a device would invariably fall offline and then come back online. Now, these devices can come back online, they know who they are, they know who they’re supposed to be talking to, what they have received in between, because there’s timestamps. Before, people had to open the ceiling and press a button and put it back into discover mode, and then you have to reconnect it to the part of the network it was in, which was just awful. So, that was a major improvement.

Shiller: Great. And the third trend was latency versus simultaneity.

Wilson: Yes. Latency versus uniformity, simultaneity or whatever you want to call it. It drove my lighting designer friends up a wall. When you have a large space, and the scene command would get sent out, you’d get this ‘popcorning’ of lights changing at different times, throughout the space. This problem has been solved with time-synched commands, which is very cool. You can have a mesh network that sends this command out over a space, with a time signature stamp on it. Then when it gets to individual nodes that are controlling that, it sends the synchronized command out to all the rest of the devices so that everything happens uniformly. It is one of the major macro trends that I believe is a big step forward.

Shiller: What do you think are the most important takeaways from the guide, that you’d like specifiers to know? 

Wilson: I think the most important thing in the guide is that every single one of these issues doesn’t matter for every single job. Just focusing on wireless as the cause of cybersecurity risks does nothing to address the actual cybersecurity risks. The most important thing is it’s a tool kit to help specifiers understand the advantages of wireless, to help support a solution that is best for the client.

Shiller: Were there any topics left out of the guide in order to keep it short, manageable, and digestible? I’m curious if there are things you wished you could have fit in, but you couldn’t?

Wilson: We got all the major topics in it. There’s always a risk when you’re an inch deep and a mile wide that you’re not hitting the important details. We could really nerd out on this stuff, but those conversations don’t actually matter for decision-makers. There are always areas that we could have gone deeper on. And one, I wish we could have gone deeper on is open versus not open. The truth is we don’t have anything close to open in lighting, even though 98% of products on the market are based on open but have been tweaked to proprietary. And then the way that these companies talk about their systems being open is very misleading. Similarly, the way that they talk about if you need a gateway or not is very misleading. It’s like you don’t need a gateway for the most basic functionality, but if you want something like scheduling, you’re going to need a gateway. Rather than trying to answer all the issues through this guide, we set the table and then say, don’t be afraid to ask, what is this? How open is it, or is this a totally proprietary solution? Is this the solution in the middle where we still have an open API?

Shiller: John, I really appreciate you sharing your expertise with our readers. Thank you. The NEEA Better Bricks Wireless Lighting Controls Guide can be downloaded here.

edited July 18, 2022

 

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