GE to boost LEDs with jet engine technology

GE shows off a prototype LED downlight with active cooling system and announces plans to release a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb for general lighting next year.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

NISKAYUNA, New York--General Electric said today it will roll out an LED bulb to replace 60-watt incandescent bulbs next year, part of an expanded line of efficient lighting.

GE also showed off a prototype downlight LED bulb which gives off 1,500 lumens, the equivalent amount of light as a 100-watt halogen, but it uses one third the energy. The prototype uses an active cooling system originally used by GE's jet engine business.

A prototype of a GE-developed LED downlight with an active cooling system that gives off as much light as a 100-watt halogen.
A prototype of a GE-developed LED downlight with an active cooling system that gives off as much light as a 100-watt halogen. GE

The announcements were made at a lighting symposium here at GE's Global Research Center, held to showcase new lighting technologies GE expects to move into the market over the next few years.

This year, it will spend about 95 percent of its lighting research budget on new efficient lighting technology, with about half of that going to LEDs. GE expects that by 2013, about 15 percent of its lighting sales will be from LEDs, said John Strainic, global product general manager for GE Lighting.

Later this year, GE will release its first LED bulb designed for general use, such as desk lamps and overhead lights. This 40-watt equivalent bulb will last over 20 years, assuming three hours a day of use, and meet the upcoming EnergyStar standard for LED bulbs. It will not be dimmable.

Next year, GE will make available a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb which will be dimmable, said Strainic. The company is pursuing a 75-watt equivalent but making an LED with that much light output is technically challenging, Strainic said.

"A 75 watt equivalent is a big leap in terms of light capability and heat dissipation," he said.

GE, which makes most of its lighting revenue from commercial customers, is pursuing other more efficient lighting technologies. Countries around the world have legislation in place that sets efficiency standards. Those standards, the analogue of fuel efficiency mandates for vehicles, will start to go into effect in 2012 in the U.S. and is expected to lead to a phase-out of 100-watt incandescent bulbs.

By Earth Day next April, GE plans to release a hybrid halogen-compact fluorescent bulb which it says addresses some of the shortcomings of CFLs. A small halogen bulb turns on when the bulb is lit, giving it "instant on" full light. Once the CFL has warmed up, the halogen turns off.

The prototype 1500-lumen LED downlight uses "dual cool jets," small devices near the light source which improve the flow of heat compared to natural convection, GE said. That type of active cooling system, which GE expects to see in commercial products some day, means that more current can be passed through fewer LED light sources, which will reduce the cost, said Strainic.