Could Coal be Replaced as the Energy Supplier of America One Day?

Across the country, energy companies are turning away from coal, and towards natural gas and solar power as ways to generate energy more efficiently, while being much safer for the environment.

In 2014, PV or solar-powered energy accounted for .5% of the country’s electricity, while natural gas accounted for a respectable 27%, according to the US Energy Information Administration. While the energy produced from PV may seem like a minuscule amount with the costs of solar and natural gas plummeting, it’s no question that more companies will be moving away from coal and towards these greener alternatives.

Solar Industry is Booming

According to the EIA, there was an increase of 100% in PV generation from 2013 to 2014.  This represented the largest growth rate for any energy source in the time period–more than natural gas, as well as wind.

Big Business Getting Behind Solar Energy

Companies around the country are beginning to take notice of the benefits both, from a public relations standpoint, as well as cost savings that can be seen by utilizing solar technology. Apple recently announced that they are investing in an $800+ million farm that will power their California facilities. Other companies, such as Walmart and Starwood Hotels, are also looking to use solar panels to power their operations around the country and ultimately, around the world.

One of the driving forces behind solar growth has been tax credits. Companies are seeing that they can save significant money in not only energy costs, but also in tax liabilities through utilizing solar energy. Hopefully government agencies will continue to offer these tax credits, which have undoubtedly had a huge effect on the growth of renewable energy sources. With some of these tax credits set to expire soon, renewing this legislation should be high on the to-do list of every politician.

Use Gooch & Housego’s OL750 to Measure PV Efficiency

One of the difficulties when utilizing solar energy is determining PV efficiency. Gooch & Housego has solved this problem by creating the OL750 spectroradiometer, which can easily measure the PV efficiency of your solar cells. As more companies turn to solar power for energy generation, it will become even more important to ensure that solar facilities are performing efficiently.

OLED Breakdown: What is it and How’s it Different?

While you may have heard of OLED technology, you likely don’t understand how truly revolutionary it will be for all types of displays. OLED, which stands for Organic Light Emitting Diodes, is an offshoot of traditional LED technology. LEDs are light sources that produce light by inserting electrons into small holes in a display’s emissive layer.

OLED technology was first used in 1987 by researchers at Kodak. Rather than using a wide array of small LED bulbs, OLED uses a thin layer of light emitting film material. This allows the display to appear much brighter while utilizing less energy compared to traditional LED displays.

Why is OLED Technology So Great?

OLED technology offers a variety of benefits compared to standard LED displays. We’ve listed a few benefits below that will hopefully allow you to truly understand how revolutionary this new technology will be to the television industry, as well as with all sorts of other displays.

  • Better Quality of Picture: Since OLED technology utilizes its own color filters, it will be able to produce much deeper and brighter blacks, as well as a variety of richer colors. Also, the refresh rate on OLED displays is much faster than LED screens in addition to the ability to offer a much wider viewing angle compared to LED technology.
  • Lower Power Usage: LED devices must have an LED back light as well as an LCD shutter, both of which are not required with OLED displays. Another way that OLED devices save energy is due to the fact that they can turn a pixel completely off to produce black, whereas an LED display must close a shutter, which requires more energy.
  • More Durable and Lighter: With the reduction of the back light and LCD shutter, OLED devices can be manufactured to be much lighter and more durable than LED devices. Also, the OLED films are much more durable compared to LED bulbs which can be prone to failure.

How Can You Measure How Well Your OLED Display is Performing?

Thanks to technology from Gooch & Housego, you can measure the effectiveness of your OLED display with the 770VIS-DMS Display Measurement System. If you have any questions about OLED technology, or our OLED display measurement system, do not hesitate to contact us today by calling (800) 899-3171.

New Infrared Technology Helps Improve Military Effectiveness

A key goal of the US Army Night Vision and Electronic Senors Directorate is to provide systems that provide a clear view through all types of obscured atmospheric conditions, day or night, with Night Vision Imaging Systems, often referred to by the NVIS acronym. This group of US Army engineers constantly works to develop new ways for soldiers to see, even in the most challenging of environments.

Infrared Technology Helps to Establish Intent

Seeing in compromising conditions is extremely important for our military personnel. Not only is it important to see, but it is also important to be able to establish intent to determine if a subject is a danger to our military. Determining with precision whether an individual or group could be carrying weapons could prevent catastrophic damage to one or more of our beloved US soldiers.

Army Looking at Improved Infrared Sensors

The US Army is constantly looking at ways to improve the sensors and resolution of night vision instruments that are being used in combat. It is always a constant battle to develop systems that are extremely accurate, yet inexpensive and rugged enough for the rigors of daily military activity.

Thankfully, recent innovations in infrared technology are offering promising developments for some of the problems faced by today’s military. These include improvements in long- and medium-wave IR wavelengths that run 8 to 15, as well as 3 to 8 µm, respectively. Technology is also improving for short-wave infrared applications, extending to night vision, which is helping to allow military personnel to better see through smoke and fog.

Increase in Use of Infrared Sensors Opens Doors for Military

As the auto industry has begun to use more infrared sensors for backup cameras and ultimately driverless vehicles, the price for this technology has finally started to come down.  This has allowed the military to utilize these types of technology much more affordably than in years past.

Future “Bright” for Infrared Technologies

The future is indeed bright for a variety of applications, like night vision, SWIR imaging, as well as MWIR and LWIR sensing technologies. While the popularity of this technology will undoubtedly mean great things for the military, it will also allow more applications for these incredible technologies to be utilized in all sorts of other industries. G&H’s OL 750 series detector spectral response characterization solutions are central to the development of these innovations. In addition, our OL 770-NVS platform is the go to system for ensuring compatibility of displays on instruments used with such new night vision technologies. For more information about this technology and its applications, please call Gooch & Housego at 1-800-899-3171.

LED Smart Shoes Can Turn Anyone Into a Dance Machine

Remember the shoes that were a huge hit with kids a few years ago? They lit up when activated by pressure applied to the bottom of the sole. Thanks to advancements in LED testing, a startup company located in Japan by the name of No New Folk Studio, has created a programmable shoe called the Orphe. The new shoes have 100 full-color LEDs, along with motion sensors and a Bluetooth module to be used by dancers looking for a bit of an “edge” on the dance floor.

LEDs Can be Controlled in Different Ways

The LEDs in these super cool shoes can be controlled in two primary ways. The first is through a smartphone app that communicates with the shoes through Bluetooth, while the second option allows the user to program the app to respond in various ways based on the wearer’s dance moves.

Shoes Go Beyond Merely a LED Light Show

Not only can the shoes produce a breathtaking light show, but they can also be used to control external devices. Representatives from the company that created the Orphe indicate that the shoes could be used to function as game controllers, musical instruments and much more.

Company officials hope that users will get creative and actually create macros to share with others to help build a strong community around this new product.  A community of rabid followers could use this technology to do some amazing things in the marketplace that go far beyond a simple shoe that lights up.

Shoes Are Relatively Affordable

Currently, the shoes can be purchased through an Indiegogo campaign.  If users purchase the shoes by way of an early bird pledge, they will run $270, but the price will eventually jump to $330. Shipments of the Orphe shoes should be expected to be delivered sometime in December of this year. For more information about these unique shoes, check out the No New Folk Indiegogo page. And for more information on LED testing or other services at Gooch and Housego, please call us at (407) 422-3171.

Energy Generation Through Fully Transparent Solar Energy Cells

Researchers at the University of Michigan may have just come up with a way to develop the world’s very first completely transparent solar cell. With the scores of glass buildings that dot the landscape in most metropolitan areas, it is no doubt that transparent solar energy cells could be used all over the world, calling for a higher demand of spectroradiometers.

Previous Attempts At Energy Generation Through Glass Proved Unattractive

Companies have attempted in the past to harvest energy through solar panels placed on glass windows of large buildings, but the outcome has been less than stellar. In fact, the main complaint with these options in the past was that the glass became too dark once solar energy cells were attached to the windows. Researchers from the University of Michigan may have a better alternative.

Solar Energy Cells Without Sacrificing Natural Light

Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed a way to generate energy without any degradation in terms of visibility. This allows workers in offices around the country to continue to enjoy their nice views while also being able to harness energy from the vast swaths of glass that are present on many large buildings across the country. In this study, researchers did not create a solar cell, but rather a completely transparent luminescent solar concentrator, which was then used to absorb certain UV rays and energy from light frequencies that are not seen by the naked eye. This energy was then picked up through small channels that line the edges of the glass or window material and directed to small standard solar cells, which generated electricity.

Work Is Still Necessary Before This Technology is Ready for the Market

There is still significant work that needs to happen before this product is ready to hit the market, but as spectroradiometer providers, we’re always excited to see advances in technology that could point us towards a world where we are able to generate more energy through environmental friendly methods like solar power.

LED Testing – Urban Farming Gaining in Popularity

When you think about where the kale or lettuce that you pick up from your local grocery store was grown, you likely wouldn’t think of a warehouse located a few minutes outside of Chicago.  The reality is that a migration toward “urban farming” around Chicago and other areas of the country is becoming more popular and cost effective, thanks to advancements in LED testing and lighting.

LED Lights Offer Huge Advantages for City Farmers

For a number of years, consumers have began to utilize LED lighting in homes and offices as a more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternative to fluorescent lighting.  However, it has taken quite some time for LED lighting to become inexpensive enough to be utilized by farmers looking to grow large amounts of crops, such as lettuce and kale, entirely indoors.

A company in Chicago recently worked with Philips to install 7,000 LED lighting strips to grow lettuce, greens and herbs. Because of the small space needed to house the LED lighting strips, these urban farmers are able to grow a large amount of produce vertically as opposed to the large amount of land that would be required to grow these crops outdoors. Farmers have been able to replace fluorescent lights with LED lights and stack racks of plants as close as two feet apart. With a 30,000 square foot warehouse, this company is currently producing around 4,000 cases of produce each week.

Scaling Food Production is Vital

As population numbers continue to surge around the country, and around the world, it will be more important than ever to increase food production. Using methods such as vertical farming, it allows farmers to more efficiently grow large amounts of produce in a much smaller time frame. Scientists are working to increase the types of crops that are able to be grown through this type of urban farming, but for now, it looks like they’ll continue to be a lot of green (in the form of lettuce, greens and herbs) coming from these city farmers.

As a world leader in light measurement solutions, Gooch & Housego’s instruments & systems provide accurate, repeatable, research-grade measurements in the US-VIS-NIR-IR wavelength ranges. For more information on LED testing or other services at Gooch & Housego, please call us at (407) 422-3171.

World Prepares to Celebrate the International Year of Light

As we move through the beginning of 2015, the UN (United Nations) is preparing to celebrate what is called The International Year of Light. This celebration aims to highlight light technologies of both the past and present.

2015 Marks Anniversaries of Several Key Events Surrounding Light

2015 marks a variety of events surrounding light. 2015 is the 1000 year anniversary of renowned scientist Ibn al-Haytham’s Book of Optics or Kitab al-Manazir. This year is also the 100th anniversary of famed scientist Albert Einstein’s relativity equations that were tested with light. 2015 is also the 50th anniversary since Bob Wilson and Arno Penzias of Bell Labs made their discovery of the Big Bang theory.

Even with these huge innovations in light across the world in the 21st century, a large number of people around the world still do not have access to light in their daily lives. International Year of Light 2015 is sponsoring a program called Study After Sunset, which is focused on increasing the amount of solar lighting in rural areas in Africa to allow children to continue to receive education after dark each day. Estimates show around 250 million residences in Africa do not have any form of electricity.

A Change is in The Air For 2015

The chairperson of UK’s National Committee for the International Year of Light 2015, Dr. Beth Taylor, PhD, is extremely passionate about providing extended lighting in less populated areas. Dr. Taylor is focused on three primary goals as chair for IYL2015, which include:

  • Making people aware of how dependent we are on photonics and light technology.
  • Encouraging more students to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
  • Keeping the Study After Sunset project at the forefront of the organization’s mission.

Dr. Taylor understands that in the past we have not done enough to make these goals come to fruition. Through her work with IYL2015, she hopes that we will be finally able to attain these goals to make a difference in the world around us.

To learn more about light measurement and instrumentation, browse through the Gooch & Housego blog on our website.

LED Lighting Offers Advances in Horticultural Applications

LED lighting has been popular among a variety of industries as a way to reduce energy consumption and in turn reduce energy costs as well. Researchers are now finding that LED lighting is not only inexpensive and extremely efficient, but it can also be used to boost productivity in various horticultural applications.

GE lighting has recently allowed an industrial lettuce farm in Japan able to produce 10,000 heads daily with the use of LED lighting. Scientists at McGill University in Canada have documented the use of LED lighting to boost tomato production and researchers at Purdue University have documented additional productivity boosts in bedding plants when using LED lighting. These multiple applications seem to prove that LED lighting may provide a much better environment for agricultural applications compared to using fluorescent lighting.

How Does LED Lighting Improve Plant Growth?

A narrow spectrum of LEDs in various colors has been known to enhance the photosynthesis process as well as offer energy cost savings compared to fluorescent lighting or broad spectrum HID lighting that is typically used in commercial farming.

Lettuce Farm in Tagajo, Japan

A partnership between the Mirai lettuce farm and GE Lighting show the huge benefits that can be seen when using LED lighting in urban agricultural applications. This farm uses around 17,500 LED lights and offers a 50% boost in plant production and a 40% drop in energy usage, compared to the previous lighting setup. This translates into a daily harvest of 10,000 heads of lettuce.

Boosts in Production of Tomatoes and Bedding Plants

As mentioned above, researchers have also seen boosts in tomato and bedding plant production with the use of LED lighting. The Purdue University study focused on bedding plants and found a particular boost in production of Penunia, Viola and Salvia plants while using LED lighting.

McGill University studied tomato production under LED light, HPS light and HPS light mixed with LED light.  All of the instances where LED lighting was used yielded increased production while the equal combination of LED lighting combined with HPS lighting yielded the best results.

Much Left to Learn in Regards to LED Lighting and Urban Agriculture

While these findings are extremely promising, scientists still need to study LED lighting in more detail before it becomes commonplace among commercial farms.