Cyalume Glow Sticks

Aug 22, 11 Cyalume Glow Sticks

As a form of recreational light, “glow sticks” are popular options for children who go out trick-or-treating on Halloween and are fun options at parties and other recreational events. However, they have many practical uses as well. They are great options for safety lighting and are popular devices for the military, law enforcement, and other emergency personnel. They are useful for signaling, illumination, surveying, perimeter control, and many other uses. Cyalume safety products has taken advantage of the glow stick’s potential as a safety product by creating a line of industrial and military-grade chemiluminescent “Lightbars.”

Cyalume Lightbars are single use products that contain non-toxic hydrogen peroxide and dye that produce a chemical luminescence when combined. Fresh out of the package, illuminating substances are separate. Generally, one is in a glass ampoule and the rest surrounds it. When the consumer wants to use it, they bend the stick to break the barriers between the substances. Another option is to shake it hard to make an encased steel ball do the work. As the substances begin to combine, they start to glow.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Cyalume safety products is the fact that they are waterproof and non-toxic. This means they work in just about any weather condition and are always safe to use. Other benefits include consistent light output without needing batteries, shelf life of several years, and easy storage. When needed, they can start emitting light within seconds.

Among Cyalume’s products are military-grade 6-inch light sticks, high-brightness “Impact” Lightbars, and the LightStation and S.E.E. evacuation kits. Cyalume has also started making the SnapLight flare alternative, which is a non-toxic alternative to traditional road flares. For these products and more, visit

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Using Halogens and Light Dimmers as a CFL Alternative

Want to save energy but don’t like CFLs? You’re not alone. CFLs are among the most efficient, commercially available lighting sources, yet these bulbs aggravate many homeowners and business operators. Despite technological improvements, some still complain that CFLs do not dim well, flicker, or cast an unappealing light. Fortunately, those who find themselves among those who do not like CFLs have an alternative in halogen light bulbs.

Halogen bulbs offer a great deal of energy savings when compared with traditional incandescent bulbs. While slightly more expensive than their incandescent bulb counterparts, they offer a much longer life. The life hours of some infrared (IR) halogens are sometimes comparable to that of CFLs.

Not only do halogen bulbs offer long life, they also dim just like incandescent bulbs. Dimming switches not only create a comfortable and appealing light level, they also save energy. Switching from incandescent bulbs to halogen bulbs will alone save 10-20% in electricity costs, but dimming can equate to energy savings of 50-60%. Further dimming puts less stress on the bulb’s filament and can easily double the bulb’s life, resulting in even more future energy savings.

While CFLs are still preferred as energy-saving light sources, halogens can still be considered a suitable, if slightly less efficient alternative. To maximize savings, always dim light levels to the lowest comfortable setting and turn lights off when not in use.

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Going Green for Spring

Mar 07, 11 Going Green for Spring

Using Bulbs that Use Less Electricity

By using bulbs that use less electricity, you are reducing the amount of energy you use in a given day. And the options for bulbs that are more energy efficient continue to grow. Recent legislation in California banned the sale of 100W incandescent light bulbs. The main reason for this was the energy wasted with incandescent bulbs. Over 90% of the energy the bulbs use is heat waste, not light. Less than 10% went to creating the visible light. This is a very inefficient use of energy. To fill in the gap created by the loss of these bulbs, manufacturers are offering a number of options.

One popular, and affordable option, is compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. These are miniature versions of the large fixtures you see in many commercial applications. Manufacturers designed these bulbs to work in the same sockets and fixtures that the traditional incandescent bulbs did. They offer the same amount of lights that incandescent bulbs do at a much lower amount of energy. The typical CFL bulb uses 20-33% of the energy that an incandescent bulb does to produce the same amount of light. By using bulbs that use less electricity, you are making an impact.

A growing alternative to incandescent bulbs is solid-state lighting. Most people see this in the form of LED lighting, or light emitting diodes. Most diodes are very small, so a lamp using them must have multiple diodes. But, the amount of lighting coming from a typical LED fixture requires only a fraction of the power an incandescent does. And they are significantly lower than what a CFL bulb requires as well. The biggest obstacle to the use of LED type lighting right now is cost due to the newer technology. The available bulbs are quite expensive; however utilizing a few bulbs that use less electricity can keep costs balanced.

Another alternative in the commercial space are high-intensity discharge lamps. These lamps work by passing electricity through gas and metal salts encased in a vacuum tube. They come in a variety of types including mercury vapor, sodium vapor, and xenon lamps. These lamps are quite efficient and offer a wide range of light wavelengths. The biggest obstacle to this lamp is that they require a ballast to maintain the electrical arc that makes the light glow. You can see that going green for spring is not difficult when using light bulbs that use less electricity.

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CFL Mercury Concerns

Feb 28, 11 CFL Mercury Concerns

Many people have concerns about mercury present in CFL bulbs, but we are here to discuss why the mercury concern has been blown out of proportion. The fact are very simple, nobody wants to expose their family and home to possible mercury contamination, but how can we alleviate these concerns with the growing popularity of CFL bulbs? The best way to address these concerns is to look at the reality of the situation. According to the Energy Star program, the average CFL bulb contains 4 milligrams of mercury. To put that into context, this amount of mercury is equivalent to the amount of mercury in a bite of albacore tuna. Also, an old-fashioned thermostat would have at least 500 milligrams.

By calculations, you actually have a role in releasing mercury into the environment whether you use CFL bulbs or not. When you use a traditional incandescent bulb, you need four times the amount of energy that you need for a CFL. Since the electrical plants are the biggest contributor to mercury release, you have the potential of four times the amount of mercury released when you use an incandescent bulb instead of a CFL. Even adding in the small amount of mercury inside the CFL bulb, this does not add up to even one-third of what releases when using an incandescent.

One concern many people have is that the mercury inside the lamp will get out if you break the bulb. Even though the bulb is made of glass, these bulbs are not fragile and can take normal handling. If a bulb breaks, then follow recommended guidelines for cleaning up. It is a simple process and does not require special cleaning materials or a call to your local HAZMAT. One reason why the mercury concern has been dramatized is because people do not understand the minuscule amount of mercury in each bulb and the simple cleaning process for removing it.

If a bulb burns out, make sure you recycle the bulb instead of sending it to the landfill. That is one way you can prevent mercury from entering the environment. Many solid waste agencies and even home improvement stores provide options for CFL bulb recycling. All you need to do is specify a special container to collect your bulbs. When you plan a trip for recycling or going to the home improvement store, take the bulbs with you and recycle them. Taking a few precautions and educating yourself will show you why the mercury concern is not as bad as it seems.

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Organic Luminescence Takes Advantage of Naturally Glowing Compounds

Feb 07, 11 Organic Luminescence Takes Advantage of Naturally Glowing Compounds

Organic luminescence is an interesting marriage of technology and natural materials. You can find a number of substances and compounds in nature which naturally glow with light, even in the dark. Science is trying to marry these natural compounds and processes with technology to create organic sources of light.

The basic design of these lights involves passing electricity through a layer of the organic compounds to make them glow. When the electricity is off, the glow is gone; when a small current begins to pass through the compound, the organic luminescence happens. Scientists are looking for ways to use this simple organic process in technology today. Many see it as a way to get light with very little carbon footprint.

Organic luminescence can bring many advantages to the marketplace. Today, most of this type of lighting is only used in small electronics. However, scientists are working to make this type of lighting work on a larger scale. Most of these lights are less than 2mm thick, and they emit little heat, which makes them ideal in a number of situations. When used in a graphic display, for example, the lights are bright and clear, even in the daytime.

The technology behind organic luminescence is expensive at this point. However, as with many other technologies, demand and advances in technology will bring the price down. Some interior designers are already starting to use them on concept displays. While they are not ready for prime time yet, these lights will be a real force in the light world of the future. Understanding how they work as well as their versatility is the first step in making their potential known.

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