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ORNL licenses graphite foam to LED North America

Posted: 03 Sep 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LED? graphite? heatsink LED North America?

Graphite foam technology developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that extends the life of LED lamps has been exclusively licensed to LED North America.

The technology was developed by James Klett of ORNL's materials science and technology division. LED North America will use the graphite foam to passively cool components in LED lamps, which are increasingly in demand in applications such as street lights and parking garage lighting. LED North America specializes in providing LED lighting products for municipal, commercial and industrial applications.

Cooling LED lamps is very important to increasing LED efficiency, with each 10C decrease in temperature doubling the life of the lighting components.

Using the graphite foam to manage the heat of LEDs is expected to extend the lamp's lifespan and lower its price, making the lamps more attractive to a broader consumer base, and offering potential savings for customers.

"While this technology will reduce temperatures and increase the life of the LED lighting systems, what it will really do is save municipalities millions of dollars every year in replacement fixture costs as well as maintenance," Klett said.

The graphite foam offers advantages over comparable heatsink materials such as copper and aluminum. It has high thermal conductivity, low weight and easy machinability that give the material greater design flexibility, making it a lighter, cheaper and more efficient cooling option.

The foam's unusual graphite crystal structure is the key to its conductivity. It has a skeletal structure full of air pockets, making it only 25 percent dense and lightweight. The network of ligaments in the foam wicks heat away from its source, making it an excellent candidate to cool the LED lamp components.

Championed as an energy saving lighting source, LEDs are becoming more widespread due to their low energy consumption, compact size and long life expectancy. Improved LED performance will enable LED North America to extend its warranty periods.

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