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GE scientists employ jet engine cooling technology in prototype LED bulb


October 24, 2010
By Anthony Capkun

As part of a two-year solid-state lighting program with the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists from GE Global Research (the technology development arm for the General Electric Company), GE Lighting and the University of Maryland have announced the successful demonstration of a 1500-lumen LED bulb (a standard 100W halogen PAR38 bulb produces 1500 lumens) that, say the partners, addresses key barriers to more widespread adoption of LED bulbs for general lighting.

PHOTO: Mehmet Arik, a mechanical engineer at GE Global Research and principal investigator on the LED project.

The prototype provides a snapshot of the future: “The scientists and
technology leaders involved in this collaboration are dissolving some
major barriers to the commercialization of general lighting LED bulbs,”
said John Strainic, global product general manager for GE Lighting.
“We’re taking swings at issues such as higher light output options,
thermal management, and bulb size and weight. This kicks open the door
to the solid-state age that is upon us”.

The LED technology achievement was announced during a future of lighting
symposium that GE hosted at its Global Research headquarters in
Niskayuna, N.Y.

As part of the DoE project, GE and the research team of Professors
Bongtae Han and Avram Bar-Cohen at the University of Maryland’s A. James
Clark School of Engineering have developed and demonstrated novel
cooling technologies that effectively manage the heat and promote lower
system costs by reducing the number of LED chips required, when compared
to conventional cooling technologies.

Mehmet Arik, a mechanical engineer at GE Global Research and principal
investigator on the LED project, says, “This is a revolutionary cooling
technology with great promise. It has the potential to help us take LED
lighting performance and efficiency to new heights. Through further
research and improvements, we may be able to increase performance
without compromising the efficiency or lifetime of an LED bulb”.

GE’s cooling solution is based on technology the company now uses in its
Aviation and Energy businesses. “Just one floor down in the same
research building, I have colleagues using our dual cool jets technology
to improve both the power and efficiency of GE’s jet engines and power
generation turbines,” Arik added. “With wind turbines, for example,
we’re manipulating airflow to increase wind energy production. With
LEDs, we’re using dual cool jets to improve the heat transfer rate and
reduce the number of chips in the lamp.”

GE dual cool jets are very small micro-fluidic bellows-type devices that
provide high-velocity jets of air, which impinge on the LED heat sink.
These jets of air increase the heat transfer rate to more than 10 times
that of natural convection. The improved cooling enables LED operation
at high drive currents without losses in efficiency or lifetime. For a
given lumen output, the dual cool jets’ improved thermal management
reduces the necessary LED chip count. This, in turn, can dramatically
lower the cost of the lamp. In addition to performance and cost
advantages, this cooling technology enables reductions in LED lamp size
and weight.

GE and the University of Maryland are in the final stages of the DoE
project. The organizations are now studying ways to improve the
reliability and lifetime of LED lighting systems.


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