SEEL project reports progress in LED and HID lamps

Oct. 16, 2012
Partners in the Solutions for Energy Efficient Lighting (SEEL) project have made research progress in HID and LED lamps for automotive and general lighting applications.
Companies, research organizations and universities taking part in the European Solutions for Energy Efficient Lighting (SEEL) project have achieved three important research goals with high-pressure discharge (HID) lamps and LEDs.

The aim of SEEL is to drive forward more energy-efficient and dynamic solutions for general lighting and automotive applications.

The partners have developed xenon lamps for car headlights that have a lower ignition voltage; they have verified higher temperature stabilities with demonstration modules for LED headlights; and they have also improved dimmable high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps for general lighting applications.

The SEEL project commenced in November 2010 and will run for three years. It is implemented at European level as part of the Cluster for Application and Technology Research in Europe on Nano Electronics (CATRENE) research program with funding of around EUR 6.7 million ($8.74 million).

The project is also supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Companies from Germany taking part in the program include Audi AG, BAG electronics, Infineon Technologies, and Osram AG. Other participants include Philips, French automotive lighting manufacturer Valeo, and IC maker NXP.

The recent project achievements include:

Xenon lamps for car headlights

Xenon lamps are a powerful and energy-efficient option for car headlights, but due to their high cost they are usually found only in luxury vehicles. The SEEL partners are now optimizing current conduction between the electrodes and arc, and are also lowering the required ignition voltage so that the control electronics can be simplified. These developments open up the potential for xenon lamps to become the standard solution for mid-range and compact vehicles as well.

Temperature-resistant LED car headlights

The demand for LED headlights is on the rise, due to the combination of highly-visible light and modern design with low energy consumption and a long service life. However, LEDs and the associated electronics work best in cool environments, and are affected when they are close to the car’s engine.

The SEEL partners have focused on the temperature resistance of LED headlight modules in order to enable simpler cooling concepts. The result is LED demonstration modules with improved heat dissipation as well as optimized electronic components and fastening materials that have passed elaborate temperature fluctuation tests. The headlight demonstrators will be tested in driving conditions as the next step.

Dimmable HID lamps for general lighting

HID lamps for general lighting can only be dimmed under certain conditions, do not produce light instantly when switched on, and the complete system with ballast is not compact enough. The project partners have improved some of these aspects by implementing new electronic control processes and a special filling blend.

Improved ignition characteristics also ensure that the new HID lamps can be switched as quickly as energy-saving lamps. Despite such modifications, the housing dimensions are compact, so that HID lamps can be flexibly integrated into different applications. The next step is to further reduce the dimensions.