DOE offers SSL funding, pushes LEDs into Energy Star

July 20, 2006
The US Department of Energy has unveiled its latest funding opportunities as part of its solid-state lighting program, and is also working to include LED products in the Energy Star program.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released the Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Product Development funding opportunity (Round III) as part of its ongoing SSL Program. The closing date is September 5, 2006.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program, which runs the SSL program, is soliciting applications to support:
• Light emitting diode (LED) product development
• Organic light emitting diode (OLED) product development
• Establishment of a technical information network

DOE is seeking applications from industrial organizations for high-priority product development activities that will advance the state-of-the-art of SSL used for general lighting applications. Technical activities are to be focused on a targeted market application with fully defined price, efficacy, and other performance parameters necessary for success of the proposed product.

For LEDs, the DOE is looking for projects to address advanced architectures and designs for emitters with high power-conversion efficiency, with a target of eventually reaching an external quantum efficiency of 81% by 2015.

Proposals addressing LED packages and packaging technology are also requested, focusing on areas such as novel electrical contacts, heat dissipation techniques, packaging materials and thermal designs.

For OLEDs, successful proposals will focus on improved light extraction and manipulation, as well as OLED encapsulation for lighting applications.

DOE expects to make 2-5 awards with a total spend (Federal share) of $3.75 million.

DOE plans to make $300,000 available to establish a technical information network for sharing updates on SSL technology, performance, and appropriate applications within key residential and commercial market sectors. This is a new area that will engage energy-efficiency program sponsors and related organizations in the production and distribution of SSL technical information.

SSL partnership collaborates on draft Energy Star criteria

In partnership with the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA), the DOE says that it is working to develop draft Energy Star criteria for white LED-based lighting products, as part of its commercialization support activities. The NGLIA is an industry body that promotes the understanding, implementation, and adoption of semiconductor light sources in specialty and general lighting systems.

DOE's agreement with NGLIA specifies a wide range of support for DOE SSL portfolio activities, including the development of voluntary market-oriented programs such as Energy Star. This is a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products (see also DOE Energy Star criteria for SSL products ).

“Over the past several months, we have worked jointly toward the first draft of an Energy Star specification for LED products,” says Kyle Pitsor, NGLIA Administrator. “There seems to be a good appreciation by our DOE colleagues of the scope and difficulty of the task, but also a determination to protect the market from poor quality products that could spoil customer perception of the technology. We appreciate the DOE steering this effort, based on its extensive SSL experience and our many partnership activities.”

Pitsor notes the synergy between related DOE-NGLIA efforts. “There is a very natural synergy between DOE's R&D program and Energy Star criteria, since the research program plus the DOE/Alliance-developed technology roadmaps give a good view of what is and what is not likely to be possible in the coming years,” he says.

“There is also a very natural synergy between Energy Star criteria and standards development. The DOE, with support by Alliance companies, organized and sponsored a first SSL standards development workshop in March 2006. We understand the DOE will also fund measurement work to develop critical ‘methods of measurement' standards that will be central to any Energy Star criteria.”

The draft Energy Star criteria are scheduled for release in July 2006. Following a three-month public review and comment period, final criteria are scheduled to be issued in October 2006. The criteria focus on near-term niche applications and will be used for several years, helping consumers recognize energy-efficient, high-performance SSL products on the market. Additional DOE Energy Star criteria will be developed as the market and products evolve.