This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 15, 2003

Solar-Powered LED Lamps Help Guide Air Force Jets in Iraq

Solar power may still conjure images of hippies and hot tubs among some people, but its current use by the U.S. Air Force adds a level of machismo that should help to dispel that image. Solar-powered lights are now marking runways at the U.S. Air Force base in Kirkuk, Iraq, and will soon be used to mark obstructions and a helipad perimeter at the base. Carmanah Technologies Corporation, which had already provided 400 solar-powered lights to the base, announced in early October that it received an order for 120 more lights. The second order is a vote of confidence for the solar technology, which uses energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, as a light source. More than 2,600 of the solar lights are now being used at military airfields throughout the world. See the Carmanah press release.

Companies continue to make advancements in LED lighting, opening up new opportunities for their use in everyday applications. Lumileds Lighting, for instance, has just released the Luxeon III light source, which uses LEDs to produce up to 80 lumens of white light while consuming about 3.9 watts of power. That's still fewer lumens per watt than most compact fluorescent lights, but more energy-efficient than an incandescent light. For instance, a 60-watt incandescent bulb typically produces about 900 lumens, or about 15 lumens per watt, compared to 20.5 lumens per watt for the Luxeon III LED light. Lumileds has recently seen its lights used for concert and dance-floor lighting, headlights in concept cars, and even headlights and taillights on Amish buggies. See the Lumileds Luxeon Web page and press release page.

Universal Display Corporation is taking an alternative approach, forming LEDs from organic materials. The company announced last week that it received a $750,000 award from DOE to advance its development of a 6-inch square panel made of thin films of organic LED materials that emit white light. See the company's press release.