Posts

Choosing A Light Source [Infographic]

I love finding these things late at night — and from a friend of light, of course!!!  I was thrilled to see this infographic made by Pegasus LightingChoosing A Light Source!

I love these infographics for one reason and one reason only — they were developed by the generation that rules the internet, and they are actually proven to spread more knowledge

Brad, I promise that I am not going to post eleventy of these things in a row, I know the rules, please don’t hit me again!  

<jimslap>

Baotou Halts Making Rare-Earths to Spike Prices. WTF!

To quote the dance performance students in my 8am Stage Lighting class, this is “jank.”  (I’m pretty sure that means that it’s f%$#ed up.)

Well, that it is.  This whole thing is certainly jank.  The “this” that I’m referring to is the fact that a Chinese government-linked company named Baotou Steel has been halting production of its rare earth elements since October 20 in order to “balance the market and stabilize supply and demand.”  I think that’s Mandarin for drive up the prices of rare earth elements, because Baotou supplies more rare earth elements than any other company in the world.  China as a whole produces 95% of the world’s rare earth element supply, so really other than a price driving measure, this is pointless.

From a Reuters article on the shutdown and the China state reaction, which seems to be actually driving this MCF:

China has resolved to streamline the chaotic rare earth sector by encouraging consolidation and cracking down on illegal private production, cited as the key reason for the decline in prices over the past few months.  It has imposed a national output cap of 93,800 tonnes for 2011, and has vowed to crack down on producers that exceed their quotas.

It launched a four-month inspection campaign at the beginning of August to ensure that production quotas, pollution standards and consolidation targets were being met.

The industry ministry said in a statement posted on its website last Friday that it planned to “strengthen monitoring and inspections” in the coming months, saying that it would pay particular attention to punishing traders and processors that receive illegally-mined rare earth products.

The region of Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, the source of most of the country’s light rare earths, has forced a number of small firms to merge with Baotou Rare-Earth , and has also been cutting off electricity supplies to private producers to force them to shut down, local media reported.

With incentives high for private producers, China has traditionally struggled to impose its will on the sector. Total output exceeded the production quota by around 40,000 tonnes last year, and traders also resorted to smuggling in order to get round a strict export cap.

What does this mean, really, and why am I reporting on this on JimOnLight.com?  Well, have you ever purchased an MSR arc lamp or bought anything lighting that has neodymium in it?  Philips’ Reveal lamps are made with neodymium inside the envelope, for example, to get that great high color temperature and whiter light.  Also to be fair, there are tons of other manufacturers who make neodymium light bulbs, and they’re great for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Yeah.  So the prices for those things and thousands of other things both in our industry and outside of it that use rare earth minerals (oxides, typically) are going to go up.  Great.  Fans of rare-earth magnets as well will be well frustrated by this little market making exercise.

I had to know what kind of rare earths this company produces – I found a JPEG list of their product line on their pretty pitifully designed website (they aren’t web developers, obviously, they’re rare earth miners and steel makers), here’s the Rare Earths section:

Yep, Neodymium Oxide is on there, and it’s a primary ingredient in doping glass for lighting.  It’s technically Neodymium (III) Oxide (for all you Chemical Abstract Society readers out there), and it’s used all over the place.  Get ready for the price to go up.  Neodymium is used to make lasers (it’s a pretty great gain medium around the IR wavelengths (1054-1064)), as well as tons of other stuff that’s now going to get more expensive.

That image shows some of the National Ignition Facility laser filters – all doped with Neodymium.  I’m interested but not excited to see what this does to prices across the lighting and photonics industries.

Neodymium is pretty interesting when in glass doping for lamps – from an article at Wikipedia on Neodymium (a cool read, please do):

A neodymium glass light bulb, with the base and inner coating removed, under two different types of light: incandescent on the right, and fluorescent on the left. This demonstrates the difference in color of neodymium glass under different lighting conditions. These two photos were taken with identical white balance and coloration and no post-processing, except for cropping. (ISO, shutter speed and aperture were changed between the shots, but this changes only exposure and has basically no effect on the color of the pictures.) The only difference is the type of illumination: fluorescent or incandescent.

Ah, capitalism.

Thanks to LightNOW (which is an awesome blog, btw), IndustryWeek, Wikipedia, and the NIF

News from Vu1 – Progress!

Remember the Vu1 lamp?  The lamp that uses ESL, or electron-stimulated luminescence technology to create light?  There’s been some news about it lately that is noteworthy – and they posted a video about the product.

Vu1, which changed over its name from the Telegen Corporation in May 2008, has been working pretty hard on this product from what I understand.  I’ve been watching their stock as of late, looking for information on how the lamp was progressing.  Funny enough, here comes this bit of news.  Who knew?

Right now, Vu1 is still working on development on putting this technology into play.  From the Vu1 blog:

“Demonstrating our technology’s ability to function as a stand-alone bulb is an important step as we move into the next key phase – miniaturization of the electronics in preparation for pilot production,” said R. Gale Sellers, CEO of Vu1. “We are now focused on transitioning our initial bulb design toward a market-ready product so consumers don’t have to compromise on safety, energy efficiency or light quality when choosing their light bulbs.”

Check out this video of Vu1’s ESL lamp:

Okay, interesting!  Now, if you remember correctly, there are a couple of things to know about the ESL lamp:

  • it’s rated at about 6,000 operating hours (near a CFL’s operating hours)
  • I am making a guess here – but I think the cost is going to be between $25 and $35 per lamp
    (which is around 5 times less expensive than a recessed mount LED lamp)
  • ESL lamps are made in the Czech Republic
  • ESL lamps have a very similar spectral distribution to those of an incandescent lamp
  • ESL lamps will have a power factor of greater than 0.93
  • zero Mercury, unlike CFLs
  • smooth dimming and fading, no burps or stutters

I am trying to get my hands on a spectral distribution diagram for the ESL lamp – as soon as I get it, I’ll post it.

If you follow lighting stocks like me, Vu1 is under VUOC on Google Finance.

Vu1 Documentary – Electron Stimulated Luminescence

I wrote about a company called Vu1 a while ago – Vu1 has the ESL technology lamp, which stands for Electron-Stimulated Luminescence.  It’s an interesting concept that tries to replace the idea of the light bulb into something completely different yet stunningly similar.

Reader Chinco Erai posted about a documentary video in the comments recently – it was an excellent look at the ESL technology – check it out!