Every once in a while I come across a new technology application in the defense arena that is so elegant I wonder why somebody didn’t think of it sooner. The latest breakthrough is replacement of thousands of fluorescent lights on Navy warships with LED — light-emitting diode — lamps. LED technology has been around for some time, but now is available for use in interior and exterior lighting. In fact, it more closely approximates the full-spectrum brightness of natural sunlight than any other artificial source of illumination. But here’s the part that matters most to the Navy: LED lighting only requires half as much electricity as fluorescents to generate equivalent illumination, and because the lamps last much longer can cut maintenance bills by 80% or more. The annual savings from switching over to LED lamps on a typical Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser are estimated at $564,000, assuming an energy cost of ten-cents per kilowatt hour. A small company in Ohio called Energy Focus, Inc. looks likely to benefit mightily from this conversion, since it is the Navy’s only approved provider of LED replacement tubes for fluorescent lights. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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