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130 TECHNOLOGY / PRODUCT REVIEW
PLASMA
LIGHTING
DavidMorganlooks at atechnology that maybecomeaviableenergyefficientlight source
forthe next tenyears
Hidden away amongst the multitude of LED for the entertainment market including the
luminaires and LED light sources at this Nemo Seachanger projector, which won an
years Lightfair in New York there were a innovation award at Lightfair, and the Robe
few exhibitors swimming against the tide, Plasma spot. Luxim are also now focusing
presenting the latest innovations in a light- on the architectural, commercial and street
ing technology that has recently become a lighting markets.
viable alternative; plasma lighting. The legal tussle about plasma lighting tech-
Luxim, Ceravision and Eden Park are some nology patents between Luxim and the UK
of the companies exploring the potential company Ceravision has now been settled
of this approach and developing luminaires and both companies are now pursuing their
and sources for a variety of lighting applica- own development paths.
tions. The Ceravision team based at Bletchley
In essence plasma lighting consists of a dis- Park have re-designed the concept behind
charge lamp without electrodes, where the plasma lighting with their own innovative
power is transferred from outside the lamp and patented approach and will be launch-
enclosure via high frequency electromag- ing a range of high bay lighting products in
netic radiation. It is a lighting technique the next few months targeted at commer-
that has been around in different forms for cial and industrial lighting applications.
many years. Nicholas Tesla patented one Ceravision will also supply their plasma light
version in the late 19th Century and induc- sources for incorporation in other manufac-
tion lamps are available from a number turers luminaires in due course.
of manufacturers although they have not The Ceravision system provides high ef-
made much of a commercial impact. The ficiency, long life, high quality white light
very high output sulphur lamp from Fusion that can be dimmed down to 10% and can
lighting with its rapidly rotating arc tube be restarted within a few seconds while hot
that was going to revolutionize the light- – it sounds just what we have been looking
ing industry as a remote light engine in the for all these years.
1990s was perhaps the strangest variant System efficiency of over 100 lumens per
of this technology. Surprisingly it is still in Watt is claimed with a usable system life of
production and is available from Plasma up to 40,000 hours and low lumen depre-
International which appears to have a niche ciation during life. The system is scalable
market in light pipes and other applications from 70 watts up to 5 kW, the lamp can be
where high levels of light can be employed. produced in mercury free versions and ap-
It is only comparatively recently that point parently can be easily recycled at the end
light sources based on plasmas have become of life.
technically and commercially viable. The claimed CRI is in the 90 – 95 range
The plasma technologies on show at Light- and as it dims the colour remains white.
fair included high output point sources, As the lamp dims the CRI is said to remain
panels and linear sources similar to CCFLs constant. The colour consistency from lamp
so there is a lot of activity in this area. to lamp is also claimed to be very good but
Currently the most successful approach for without seeing a whole row of pendants or
high power point sources is based on micro- floodlights using the source it is not possible
wave excitation of an argon gas and metal to be sure about this yet. From the dem-
halide mix to create a gas plasma. One onstrations that I have seen so far the light
version of this technology was presented quality is very usable for general commer-
in New York by the US company Luxim. The cial, sports and industrial applications and
Luxim LIFI light engine has already been large retail spaces.
incorporated into a number of luminaires The Ceravision power supplies will be
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