US DOE announces L-Prize Concept Phase winners

Feb. 3, 2022
Secretary of Energy says L-Prize innovators are “ratcheting up” the competition for advances in commercial lighting. DOE hands over first-phase prize winners and looks ahead to prototype judging.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the first round of winners in its revamped L-Prize program. Winners of the Concept Phase were recognized during the 2022 Solid-State Lighting Workshop on Thursday, Feb. 3, presented by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

The initial L-Prize competition debuted as the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize in 2008 to accelerate the penetration of LED lighting into the replacement lamp market. That first competition concluded in 2011 with the win going to the former Philips’ organization’s now-familiar yellow, 60W-replacement lamp.

The new L-Prize program seeks to recognize the next generation of LED lighting developments that will help to further improve energy consumption and efficiency; support sustainable design and end-of-life options for luminaires; deliver equality in lighting access and features; and offer advanced functionality with user-friendly controls. The new L-Prize competition will comprise three phases:

  • Phase 1 — Concept: DOE award of up to $20,000 for each winning LED lighting concept submitted
  • Phase 2 — Prototype: DOE award of $2 million to be split among up to three selected prototype systems
  • Phase 3 — Manufacturing and installation: DOE award of up to $10M to be split among up to two final selected individuals or teams

Participants in the program administration include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the DOE. In an October article featured in LEDs Magazine, PNNL lighting researcher Kate Hickcox emphasized that the L-Prize looked to stimulate innovation and participation from a large pool of talent. “Through the L-Prize, DOE aims to draw on lighting innovations from everybody, with a chance for major players, upstart small companies, garage inventors, and academic teams to take the plunge and submit concepts,” wrote Hickcox.

L-Prize initial winners revealed

Evaluations in the updated L-Prize competition center around continuous improvements in energy use by commercial lighting in order to support decarbonization efforts. Participants are encouraged to pursue the use of domestic materials with a high level of recyclability, as well as consider diversity, equity, and inclusion factors in the design, production, and implementation of lighting systems.

Secretary Granholm said, “Investing in next-generation lighting solutions is key to tackling the climate crisis, boosting American supply chains and manufacturing of these technologies, creating good-paying jobs, and Building Back Better.”

Winners of the Concept Phase are:

  • Project Tango, submitted by QuarkStar (Las Vegas, NV) — A networked, white-tunable luminaire concept leverages innovations in optics, LED, and power conversion technology to deliver high efficacy, exceptional quality of light, and precise control of light distribution
  • Sustainable and Connected Troffer Retrofit, submitted by Orion Energy Systems (Jacksonville, FL) — A high-efficacy, networked LED luminaire concept utilizing advanced controls that can be retrofitted in less than two minutes to an existing fluorescent luminaire
  • Laterally Symmetrical Level 3 Engine for 3-D Printing, submitted by Smash the Bulb/Bridgelux (Mountain View, CA) — A 3-D–printed semi-indirect luminaire concept relies on a light engine that requires no secondary optics and delivers high efficacy and light quality; an optical design that reduces losses and addresses glare; and a luminaire housing that can be 3-D printed onsite
  • Papaya Modular Lighting Ecosystem, submitted by Papaya (Evanston, IL) — A modular luminaire platform designed by a team from outside the lighting industry uses a unique community-based approach; an all open-source aspect invites innovators of all types to participate in evolving the lighting solution over time

The Prototype Phase opens this month for prototype lighting system development, which will be evaluated for technical performance. Participants need not have submitted during the prior Concept Phase. Visit the L-Prize website for additional information and rules.

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

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About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.