Navigant Research Blog

DOE Announces Recipients of SBIR-STTR Phase I Grants for 2017

— January 31, 2017

BulbsThe Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science recently awarded four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for innovation in solid-state lighting (SSL) technology. The grants are aimed at helping the lighting industry reach performance and cost goals, as specified in the DOE’s SSL R&D Plan. First published in 2015, the SSL R&D Plan combined the DOE’s previously published Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) and SSL Manufacturing Roadmap. The SSL R&D Plan provides direction and goals for LEDs and OLEDs through 2030, with the aim of increasing energy savings.

What Are the SBIR-STTR Programs?

The DOE is one of eleven federal agencies that offer SBIR-STTR programs enacted under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. The programs work to increase technology innovation to address specific scientific and engineering challenges. The DOE’s SBIR Program aims to stimulate technological innovation, use small businesses to help meet federal R&D needs, and increase the participation of groups traditionally less represented, such as women and the socially and economically underprivileged. The STTR Program focuses on stimulating scientific and technological innovation and to nurture technology cooperation between small businesses and research institutions.

The SBIR-STTR programs supply funding for Phase I and Phase II projects twice each fiscal year, and for-profit US businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply for the grants. Phase I recipients are awarded up to $150,000 for 6 months, and Phase II recipients are awarded funding based on Phase I results and generally do not exceed $1,000,000 for 2 years.

Grant Recipients

The FY2017 Phase I grants were awarded to Pixelligent Technology, Lumisyn, OLEDWorks, SC Solutions, and MicroLink Devices. The lone STTR grant, awarded to MicroLink Devices, is for a joint project between the company and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to improve the performance of phosphide-based red and amber LEDs. This project aims to improve adoption of red and amber LEDs by allowing for integration with existing device designs and manufacturing processes.

Two of the SBIR grants, awarded to Lumisyn and SC Solutions, focus on LEDs. Lumisyn is working to increase the performance of nanocrystal-based silicones; the project will focus on properties of blue LEDs to produce white light. SC Solutions is poised to work on new heating techniques in metal-organic chemical-vapor deposition. The technique will reduce the need for binning in LED manufacturing and decrease the technology’s cost.

The remaining two SBIR grants, awarded to Pixelligent Technology and OLEDWroks, are for OLED technology. Pixelligent’s grant project will focus on improving the light extraction of OLED products by integrating a high refractive index extraction layer in the OLED material stack. This layer will provide enhanced light output, increase efficacy, and extend the lifetime of the product. OLEDWorks will work to reduce manufacturing costs in the hopes of making OLEDs more attractive for general lighting applications through its grant project. Based on the success of these projects in Phase I, companies could be awarded additional funding for further work on their projects.

Incorporating the R&D efforts of private organizations to help meet federal goals, as the DOE does through the SBIR-STTR programs, can further the overall success of SSL and increase market adoption of these products. Navigant Research projects increased adoption of LED and OLED technologies, and grants such as these will assist with growing the market of SSL products within the lighting industry.


Giving to the Environment This Holiday Season

— December 5, 2016

LEDsThe moment Halloween was over, or in some cases before, holiday decorations were already on sale in major retail stores. With the holiday season comes added expenses—from gifts to parties to additional travel. Reducing energy consumption allows consumers to save money on their utility bills while also contributing less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By selecting certain types of gifts, it’s easy to help reduce waste and environmental impact during the holiday season.

Lower Energy Consumption

Holiday lights for both the commercial and residential sectors are already an added expense this time of year. Using LED holiday lights can greatly lower utility bills. Even with the additional upfront costs compared with traditional miniature lights, LEDs are a more economical option. While incandescent lights have a lifespan of roughly 2,000 hours, LED holiday lights have a projected lifespan of upwards of 20,000 hours. In addition to their extended lifespan, LEDs use considerably less energy and thus cost less over the same operating hours as traditional lights. Although LEDs consume substantially less energy than incandescents, reducing overall operating hours will decrease energy consumption even more. One simple way to reduce operating hours is to turn off lights when no one is in a particular room or area.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many gifts for the holidays are made from recycled materials, such as recycled tires, plastic bottles, reclaimed wood, and repurposed clothes or fabrics. These types of gifts reduce environmental impact over gifts made only with new, non-recycled materials.

Reusing items comes in many forms. Purchasing rechargeable batteries eliminates waste for gifts and home electronics that require batteries. Reusing newspaper, paper bags, maps, scarves, or other fabric as wrapping is an environmentally friendly alternative to purchasing wrapping paper, which not only reduces waste, but also cuts overall holiday shopping costs. For the crafty types, holiday decorations can be made by reusing household items, such as jars, cardboard, strings, and paper.

With the increase in wrapping paper, holiday cards, cans, and bottles, it is important to recycle as many items as possible. As Navigant Research discusses in its Smart Waste Collection report, the collection of smart waste is a growing market and is expected to grow from $57.6 million in 2016 to $223.6 million in 2025. While many recycling programs could improve upon efficiency, they will accept the above listed items, making it easy to recycle instead of throwing these items in the trash. For other things such as electronics, there are often special recycling options for these items or many places that will accept them as donations.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Reducing, reusing, and recycling can significantly decrease the amount of waste around the holidays and help form habits to continue waste reduction throughout the year.


LED Street Lights Experience Continued Growth

— November 10, 2016

The declining costs of LEDs have made the technology a more economical choice for cities and municipalities interested in upgrading street lighting. These reduced costs, coupled with the longer lifespan and higher efficiencies of LEDs over incandescent, high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide, and compact fluorescents, have ensured a strong LED presence in the future of street and outdoor lighting.

Recent LED Street Lighting Projects

Long Beach, California recently announced the completion of the first phase of its LED street light retrofit project. Phase one included replacing roughly 1,750 HPS street lights with LED versions. This first phase was funded through a $659,000 Port of Long Beach Community Mitigation Grant. The second phase of the project will replace about 24,000 HPS street lights with a cost of roughly $6.1 million, which will be offset within 4 years by the energy savings and rebates offered by Southern California Edison, which total $3.2 million. The new LED street lights are expected to last 24 years when operated 12 hours per day, and the total lifetime savings for this project are expected to be approximately $15.1 million.

Further north, West Kelowna, Canada will be converting 1,750 HPS street lights to LEDs. Initially, the city will replace 193 street lights with LEDs during a pilot project, costing an estimated C$60,000 ($44,746), including a C$10,000 ($7,457) grant from electric service company BC Hydro. The LEDs from the pilot project alone are expected to save the city C$4,500 ($3,361) over a 1-year period. West Kelowna has estimated that the full retrofit project will save C$13 million ($9.7 million) over a 15-year period once the installation is complete. San Francisco, California also recently announced it will install LED streetlights to decrease maintenance costs and improve the safety of city residents. It plans to install about 18,000 LED lights within a 14-month period.

The Future of LED Street Lights

Long Beach, West Kelowna, and San Francisco are only a few of the numerous cities transitioning to LED street lights. According to Navigant Research’s recent report, Outdoor Lighting Systems, global shipments of outdoor lighting luminaires are expected to grow from 24.1 million units in 2016 to 30.3 million units in 2025. These figures include outdoor lighting for street lighting, including highways and roadways, city parks and public areas, sports parks, commercial site lighting, parking lots, and university and college campuses. LED luminaires currently lead the market for outdoor lighting, accounting for an estimated 67.9% of unit shipments in 2016—by 2025, that share is expected to grow to 93.8%. Whether for increased energy savings, reduced maintenance, improved safety, or other motivating factors, cities are poised to continue to transition to LED street lights.


Title 24 Is Lighting the Way for Building Energy Efficiency Standards

— October 11, 2016

LEDsIn the United States, California is seen as a leader in energy efficiency policy, due in large part to Title 24, a part of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Efficiency Standards. These standards reduce electricity and natural gas usage in the state, preventing the construction of additional power plants. Title 24 is focused on both residential and non-residential buildings and dates back to 1987. The standards are updated on a roughly 3-year cycle; the current version of the standards went into effect on July 1, 2014 and will be superseded by the 2016 standards, which are set to take effect on January 1, 2017.

2013 Standards

The current 2013 standards improved upon the 2008 version for new construction as well as additions and alterations made to buildings across multiple areas, including lighting, mechanical systems, and electrical power distribution, among others. Previously, lighting for non-residential buildings needed to comply with the most current standard when 50% of luminaires were replaced.

However, the 2013 standards increased this requirement, stating that lighting alterations must comply with the most recent standards when as little as 10% of luminaires are replaced, a requirement that is consistent with changes to the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standard. The 2013 standards also require that non-residential building lighting controls must include continuous dimming or three intermediate levels between on and off settings, compared with the one intermediate level previously required.

The 2013 standard also specified multiple changes to the use of occupancy sensors linked to lighting. Parking garages must incorporate occupancy sensors so that lights on seldom-visited levels can be dimmed or turned off when not needed. Warehouses, stairwells, and corridors must include lighting controls that partially dim lights when the space is unoccupied. In addition, hotels must include occupancy controls linked to all lighting fixtures, including plug-in lighting (such as table lamps) and HVAC equipment.

2016 Standards and Beyond

The 2016 standards will build upon the 2013 iteration in an aim to increase energy efficiency. Under the new standards, non-residential lighting control requirements will be easier to apply in regard to occupancy controls and multi-level lighting. When multi-level controls are needed, they will only be required to allow the user to activate control steps. If the lighting is dimmable, then the multi-level control must be a dimmer that allows for this in addition to a manual on and off function.

The new standards also include new exceptions to multi-level lighting requirements. Public restrooms and areas that are required to utilize full or partial off occupancy sensors are now exempt from multi-level requirements.

The new standards are projected to be 5% more energy stringent for non-residential buildings and 28% more stringent for the residential requirements. As the Title 24 standards continue to evolve and increase their stringency, they have become progressively more significant by increasing energy efficiency requirements for new construction and renovations and retrofits. Title 24 serves as a beacon for other states looking to revise and create building energy standards.


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