Compact Flourescent Lamp And The Environment

4438 words - 18 pages

Compact Flourescent Lamp and the Environment

Abstract

Technological advances have come a long way since the incandescent light bulb. Today, the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is the most energy efficient light bulb on the market. In the beginning, consumers had resistance toward the CFL. With governmental support in establishing energy-efficient lighting programs, the CFL have been able to stay in the market and improve throughout the years.

Introduction

With the advances in technology today, we are able to produce a variety of energy-efficient products, one of which is the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). Having come a long way from the energy-absorbing incandescents, CFL is clearly the choice for the future. CFLs potentially could save nonrenewable energy resources and electricity expenses because they are so efficient. When we switch over to the CFL, we no longer have to constantly replace burnt out incandescents because a CFL will last “10 times [longer than] the average life of the longest-lived incandescents” (Petrowski, 1995). In addition, for only 13 to 15 watts of electricity, the CFL delivers the equivalent light of a 60 or 75 watt incandescent bulb, representing an energy savings of about 80% (Luoma, 1991). Therefore, we no longer have to drill more oil or mine more coal because if these energy efficient lights were installed in all U.S. homes over the next 20 years, “the savings in energy would equal the estimated energy content of Alaska’s entire North Slope oil fields” (Miller, 1997). Energy efficient lights could also save U.S. businesses $15-20 billion per year in electricity bills (Miller, 1997). It is evident that the potential benefit for the environment is enormous.

Nonetheless, many people are not taking advantage of this environmentally friendly device. In fact, in the early 1990’s, only 63.3 million CFLs were sold, which is not even close to 10% of the 1 billion to 1.5 billion sockets available in the U.S. (Rigdon and Wadman, 1992). One must wonder why this new and improved technology is left in the dark and why the resistance to the CFL?

Historical Significance

The incandescent light bulbs dates back to Thomas Edison’s 1879 design which was a marvelous invention for the 19th Century. The incandescent light bulb heats a filament by electric resistance inside a sealed glass globe and makes the thin tungsten wire glow white hot (Luoma, 1991). The incandescent blub is very inefficient because only 10% of the electricity flowing into the filament becomes light and the remaining nine-tenths is lost at heat (Luoma, 1991). A standard blub is hot to the touch because it expends more than 90% of the electrical energy keeping its tungsten filament hot enough to glow (Roodman, 1993).

A more advanced alternative to the standard incandescent light bulb is the CFL. Fluorescent tubes, developed in the 1930’s, utilize a chemical-physical process involving the ionization of argon gas (Luoma,...

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